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Business Intel: Road Runner Express Car Wash

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A revival is in the works for a busy car wash site that was abruptly closed by Mother Nature last year when a heavy rainstorm set off a small landslide.

Southern Classic Auto Wash, which operated on Orange Avenue for more than 25 years, has been dormant since January 2021 after a steep slope immediately next to its building suffered a partial collapse amid a saturating, daylong rain.

The slide, which unfolded overnight and caused no injuries, crushed the rear of the building and left it a total loss.

The owners, who at the time had recently sold another location in Christiansburg, explored rebuilding but ultimately decided to list the 1.5-acre property for sale.

The site is now under new ownership, and slated to become the home of a new, upscale car wash that aims to open in early 2023.

Road Runner Express, which opened its first location in Lynchburg last year, offers a range of services, including memberships, which have proven popular with customers, said general manager Daniel Cyrus.

“Our main goal, always, is customer service,” Cyrus said. “That starts with the technology put in the car wash itself and, at the end of the day, really finishes with our people. That is what’s really important to us. We want you to drive onto the lot, and be greeted with a smile.”

The high-tech facility is an automated car wash but expects to employ around 12-15 attendants to assist people.

The sale of the site, located on a high-traffic corridor at 950 Orange Ave. NE, was finalized in January for $875,000. The real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield — Thalhimer represented Road Runner Express in the deal.

Road Runner was the second purchaser of the property. The site initially sold to another group last year that went on to sell it to the new car wash.

This will be the business’s first footprint in the Roanoke market but it hopes to keep expanding in the region.

The Orange Avenue project is now navigating the permitting and site plan approval process. Its applications call for slope stabilization work, a retaining wall and a new configuration that will put the car wash closer to the road and away from the rear slope.

Once the plans get the green light, Road Runner plans to start razing the old building and moving forward with construction. Cyrus said the group hopes to open early next year.

The new car wash building is expected to span about 5,200 square feet. The site will also offer vacuuming stations with car detailing tools for those who want to spruce up both the inside and outside of their cars.

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