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Construction Ongoing at Buhler Car Dealership Destroyed by Fire

The rebuilding process continues in the aftermath of a large fire at Buhler Jeep Chrysler in May 2012.

The brand new Buhler & Bitter is one step closer to becoming a reality after the car dealership was destroyed by a fire in May 2012. The charred remains have been discarded and a large masonry structure has been erected at their longtime location on Route 35 South in Hazlet. 

The plans approved in August by the Hazlet Township Planning Board detail a new two-story modern structure accented with tall glass windows and polished aluminum and include site and safety improvements.

"We're very happy" said Garry Foltz, one of the owners, after the Planning Board voted 8-0 to approve the final site plan. His father-in-law Don Buhler, who continues to have an active role in the firm, said, "We're pleased, we worked hard on this plan and we think it's an improvement." 

The longtime Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealership at 3290 Highway 35, where new and used cars were sold, serviced, detailed and financed, was completely demolished following a spectacular blaze on May 26. The fire was later determined to have been caused by a faulty relay in a battery cable the dealership was servicing. At the time, the owners vowed to hold onto their 34 employees and rebuild anew.

The new masonry structure has more than twice the square footage of the old one did on the 2.29 acre lot located in the Business/Highway zone. Foltz hopes to be finished by the one-year anniversary of the fire, he said. Its location has shifted slightly to be sited closer to Maple Drive. It was designed by Architect Richard Villano. The project manager is Andrew Comi, PE of Kennedy Consulting Engineers. 

Several safety improvements are also in the plans. Previously, there were seven driveways from Route 35. The new plan calls for highway driveway access to be reduced to just two driveways, with a more dedicated and purposeful circulation area. Maple Drive access will be restricted by curbing. The changes were to increase safety for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. 

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Read Holmdel-Hazlet Patch's coverage of the fire and interviews with the Buhler family, and see photos from people who witnessed the fire that will be long remembered in the Bayshore. 

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