End of the road for Hackney Car Centre dealership after 32 years in Mare Street
PUBLISHED: 11:55 07 December 2018
One of Hackney's oldest car dealerships is closing after 32 years in Mare Street - to make way for luxury flats.
Hackney Car Centre opened in the 1960s and moved to its current site in Mare Street, near the junction with Well Street, in 1986.
But now it is to be replaced with nine apartments with commercial space underneath, the work of Shoreditch developer Aitch Group.
Owner Kemal Ahmet, 67, moved to Hackney from northern Cyprus in 1962 and will close up on 15 December.
He said: “After all these years, it is sad. I still can’t believe I’m out of here on the 15th.”
Kemal will retire to Essex, where he says there are “nicer people”.
He said Hackney had changed a huge amount in his time here. When he arrived on the plot in 1986, he was surrounded by factories and local shops.
Now there are Vietnamese restaurants, a gym and a branch of the London College of Fashion. The only surviving business is a barber, which opened in 1958.
“It’s more of a rich area now,” he said.
Business was once “beautiful”, but recently Kemal has struggled to pay his £10,000-a-month overheads.
His son, Sammy, 28, who is now looking for a new job, added: “For the last few years it’s been no frills really. You might go a couple of weeks when you might not do anything.”
Kemal and Sammy have moved with the times – 90 percent of business now comes online.
But the market for used cars has shrunk. Only 34 per cent of Hackney people now own motor vehicles. Parking restrictions have spread. The new development will have cycle parking but no space for cars.
“Every year something happens,” said Sammy. “It’s like you’re running into a wave machine and they turn the waves up a little bit more every time.”
Aitch Group, which applied for planning permission in June, has built flats across east London, and is selling one in Hackney Wick for £775,000. It says this development “will contribute positively to the immediate area”.
Sammy added: “You find that in London everyone is trying to do each other a little bit; it’s a bit of a shafting city, isn’t it?”