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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

West Side Car Wash Opens With Hopes Of Boosting Main Commercial Strip

Buddy Bear Car Wash opened in the North Avenue commercial corridor.

Ald. Emma Mitts at the grand opening of Buddy Bear Car Wash.
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NORTH AUSTIN — A car wash business has opened on the West Side, joining an area local leaders say is critical to the economic rejuvenation of the neighborhood.

Buddy Bear Car Wash opened their newest location at 4936 W. North Ave along one of North Austin’s main commercial corridors. The company has two other locations on the West Side.

Owner Philip DeGeratto lived in Austin in the ’70s and ’80s, and the DeGeratto has been doing business on the West Side for generations. His grandfather ran a group of grocery stores on the West Side called Big Bear Foods.

DeGeratto’s father also owned three grocery stores on the West Side called Buddy Bear Food Centers.

He said he hopes his business in North Austin will help continue the revitalization of the neighborhood driven by the North Avenue commercial corridor.

“The neighborhood’s been underserved,” DeGeratto said. “We are hoping with the development of the carwash, the traffic that we’re going to help draw will help other local businesses in the area.”.

Buddy Bear gave away 10,000 free car washes to celebrate their grand opening, DeGeratto said.

DeGratto previously sought to open a car wash on the South Side but his proposal was blocked by Ald. Patrick Thompson (11th). DeGratto described the rezoning of the land he’d purchased to develop the business as “aldermanic privilege,” while Thompson said a car wash didn’t fit into the development plans for the area.

But in Austin, Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) threw her support behind the new car wash as an opportunity to bring new jobs to the neighborhood and draw more businesses to local commercial areas.

“These strong partnerships are critical, and they’re bringing a much-welcomed economic stimulus to the North Avenue commercial business corridor,” Mitts said.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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