Tommy’s Boats Dealership Slated for Auburn Hills, Includes 4-level Boat Tower along I-75

Tommy’s Boats is one step closer to opening a dealership, complemented by a four-level, glass-enclosed boat tower visible from I-75, just west of Joslyn Road and next to a Topgolf facility and close to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, in Auburn Hills.
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Glass tower rendering
Tommy’s Boats wants to build a dealership in Auburn Hills that would feature a four-level glass-enclosed boat tower. // Renderings courtesy of Create 3 Architecture

Tommy’s Boats is one step closer to opening a dealership, complemented by a four-level, glass-enclosed boat tower visible from I-75, just west of Joslyn Road and next to a Topgolf facility and close to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, in Auburn Hills.

This week, the Auburn Hills Planning Commission approved the project 8-0, and now it will be considered by the City Council on June 19.

The development would include a 21,483-square-foot boat dealership sales and service building, the four-tier tower that would have internal lights at night, and an associated inventory storage parking lot. The nearly 5-acre site is zoned B-2 (general business district).

Tommy’s Boats, founded in Denver in 1981, today has 16 dealerships in multiple states, including Michigan locations in Waterford Township, Grand Rapids, and Walloon Lake. The dealerships offer new and pre-owned inventory, including craft from Bennington, Chaparral, Cobalt Boats, Malibu Boats, Manitou, Starcraft Marine, SunCatcher, Tahoe Pontoons, and more.

In addition, the company operates nine on-water rental programs throughout eight states, including Michigan, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas.

Tommy’s Boats is believed to be the largest ski and wake dealer globally and one of the largest pontoon dealers in North America, supplying a full suite of boat repair services, rental services, and retail goods and apparel.

According to the planning commission, the “proposed development includes a building with a modern architectural design and enhanced landscaping that will help improve the appearance along Great Lakes Crossing Drive and the I-75 corridor.”

Tommy’s Boats is targeting a construction start date no later than May 1, 2024, with an anticipated opening by May 1, 2025. The proposed dealership is expected to employ between 20 and 30 people. The total investment is estimated at $6 million.

The mini tower will have a height of around 60 feet. The planning commission notes nighttime lighting will add a distinctive element to the project since it is adjacent to Topgolf Auburn Hills, which is heavily illuminated at night, and within the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets entertainment district.

The tower’s lighting system is arranged so that lights shine on every boat in the tower. Light trespass is minimized since the lights shine inward onto boats, and the use of color lighting in and on the display tower is prohibited.

If approved, the development would be the first standalone boat dealership in Auburn Hills. In addition, the development team will make a financial contribution to assist with the creation and maintenance of off-site public spaces and improvements to the future Auburn Hills Public Square project in downtown Auburn Hills.

In November 2022, the Auburn Hills City Council had approved a Carvana auto dealership at the Tommy’s Boats site, but since that time, Carvana notified the city of the withdrawal of their project.

For more information on Tommy’s Boats, visit tommysboats.com/.