San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 13th, 2008
Nash sees boom
after gloom

Chuck Nash addresses the crowd as he opens his new GMC dealership on the north end of San Marcos.By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large

John Nash opened Capital Chevrolet in Austin in 1926. As time went by, Nash turned the operations over to his sons. Fifty years after Nash opened Capital Chevrolet, a grandson took a look at the family business and figured there probably wasn’t room at the top anytime soon.

Thus, Chuck Nash came to San Marcos in 1976.

“I was 25 or 26, thought I knew everything until I came down here,” Nash said. “I came through the family tree. It was a little crowded at the top and that’s why I broke off and came down here.”

Nash saw a future in San Marcos and has become one of the town’s most active citizens. Wednesday, Nash unveiled another vision of the future with the grand opening of his new car dealership less than two miles south of Yarrington Road on Interstate-35.

The location positions Nash to capitalize on Kyle’s growth just to the north, as well as the next wave of growth in San Marcos, which, he believes, is headed to the north side of town. The 42,700 square feet under roof utilizes sustainable technologies, such as low-heat glass, natural illumination and ventilation, a high albedo roof to reduce heat gain and motion controlled lighting among other such features. The outdoor lot can hold an inventory of 435 cars.

Nash’s grand opening took place against a backdrop of bad news in the economy striking on a daily basis. As Nash cut the ribbon in his new store, General Motors, his supplier, was asking the federal government for help after announcing a third quarter loss of $2.5 billion.

But Nash, 57, was undeterred. Just before cutting the ribbon, Nash said to the hundreds in attendance, “Don’t forget, when you’re reading about everything and hearing about everything, this is Texas and Texas is special, especially between Austin and San Antonio.”

Later Nash explained that he sees a silver lining in opening his GMC dealership during tough times. It’s done, which means he won’t have to do it while he could be selling cars.

“When I looked at it, I’d rather be building it during a time when the economy is a little slower because what I want to do is really blow and go when it turns and I don’t want to be tied down with building a dealership when it’s really hustling and bustling,” Nash said.

Nash remains bullish on San Marcos and Hays County. He shares the common belief that the country’s economic problems haven’t and won’t hit the area with as much force as elsewhere and figures a rebound is coming in six months or a year.

He’s especially upbeat in light of the overwhelming success of a countywide road bond initiative that passed on Nov. 4 with 65 percent voter approval, carrying all but one box in the county. Nash chaired the committee, Hays Families for Safe Mobility, which campaigned for the bond’s passage.

Now, the county will issue $207 million in debt to start work on 17 road projects, with a promise from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for up to $133.2 million in reimbursements in the next 20 years. Among the major improvements are the southeastern loop in San Marcos (FM 110), a widening of FM 1626 to five lanes on the Buda area’s west side, and upgrades along Interstate-35 running through Kyle and U.S. 290 in the Dripping Springs area.

“When we saw that our road bonds passed and by the percentage that they passed, it said that Hays County is open for business,” Nash said.

And business, he said, is going to be good in Hays County.

“I think it’s going to be really explosive here,” he said.

As an active member of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, Nash said the city has heard from potential big employers, adding, “I think we’ll always keep our dignity in the way we will grow. We won’t just be slice and dice.”

As chairman of the city’s airport commission, Nash sees just a couple more steps before the San Marcos Municipal Airport becomes an important regional player, adding, “I think we can bring more and more airplanes from Austin and San Antonio when they find out how easy it is to get here and how modern our facility is.”

As a businessman in San Marcos, Nash is heartened to think that “if you asked those graduates at Texas State, probably about 80 percent of them would just as soon make their homes here.”

The challenge, he allowed, is to capture that talent by providing breadwinner employment to those graduates in their fields. Nash said he likes Mayor Susan Narvaiz’ idea about luring employers to the area who can provide employment in forensic science, civil and mechanical engineering, and health care, which are strong fields at Texas State.

But Nash also likes San Marcos’ potential because the Austin-San Antonio corridor has attracted growth for the last 20 years and San Marcos has room to grow, especially on the north end, where it meets with Kyle. It doesn’t just happen that Nash built his new dealership right south of Yarrington Road.

“I think San Marcos has grown as far south as it’s going to,” he said. “I think the outlet malls are kind of our south boundary and we’re going to start growing north … I think you may see a little bit of bounce from Kyle coming over here. Seton (Hospital, opening in Kyle early in 2010) is going to be huge. When you think about the doctors, nurses, technicians, all those people, we’re going to be ten minutes from that hospital and I think we’ll certainly get some of that.”

The new Nash locations will sell General Motors products exclusively, with a service center on site. The old Nash location on SH 123 near I-35 will continue as a Jeep store, body shop and service center.

But Nash is always thinking bigger, believes the county will think that way with him, and isn’t letting the tough times hold him back.

“We’re working hard on getting Cadillac,” he said.

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One thought on “Nash sees boom
after gloom

  1. “open for business” may mean different things to different people. Mr. Nash’s take on it appears to be all about people making money, and making it in short order. Then there is the side of it that is about long-term values, about quality of life and minimizing degradation of what might be lumped under “natural values”. Mr. Nash’s view appears to be essentially anthropocentric. Sure, as long as our population continues to increase, we’re going to continue to need more and more housing, and more and more employment opportunities for all those people. The “tension” this creates between people and those natural values is and will continue to be a central issue in this area, and Hays County may well be the epicenter of all this. As Mr. Nash also noted, there is a desire–indeed a need–to “keep our dignity in the way we will grow.” The “quality” of our developments, indeed of our development processes, standards and practices, will determine how well we “keep our dignity”. This will entail land use practices and their impact on water resources and transportation needs. In the water resources area, we will need to maximize such practices as rainwater harvesting, beneficial reuse of “waste” water, and a “retain, don’t drain” approach to stormwater management, and we will need to integrate these practices into more sustainable forms, all to maintain to the maximum extent practical the hydrologic integrity — and thus the ecological integrity — of the watersheds, and indeed of our ability to simply provide adequate water supplies. This will need to be accompanied by “new urbanist” development practices that maximize neighborhood integration with shopping and employment, to minimize the need for ever more and more pavement blanketing these watersheds, ever more and more vehicular pollution from traffic on that pavement. This is all a very tall order for a county that still has a very rural, even “frontier” mindset, in a very “property rights” state that seems to manifest itself as expecting there is a divine right to a property value based on some mythical development “potential” that may bear no relationship to the underlying values of the land and its water resources. A lot of oxen will have to be gored in order to produce the changes that are needed in order to guide development along more sustainable paths. Since county government is very weak in terms of “controlling” development, a lot of this will depend on how “enlightened” the business community chooses to be — on whether “open for business” means let’s rape it to maximize short-term profits, or whether development will be recast as an investment in community, in creating a place that will remain “open for business” for our children and grandchildren. Unless those changes — especially in mindset — are made, and made in fairly short order, Hays County will no doubt be, as Mr. Nash indicated, “sliced and diced”, and will soon NOT be the place where 80% of Texas State grads would want to call home.

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