ROANOKE, Va. -

You've heard of the motor mile. How about the motor magnet?

That's how Mayor David Bowers referred to the area near the Roanoke Civic Center Friday, after Haley Toyota broke ground on a new dealership there.

Once slated to become Roanoke's new stadium and amphitheater, the land sat empty while the city offered it for economic development.

Now Haley Automotive Group is the new owner, with plans to build its new Toyota dealership there.

City leaders joined Haley employees at the ground-breaking ceremony Friday morning.

"It's going to be a whole lot better place for our customers to come to," said Haley Toyota General Manager Chuck Baker. "Right now, we're very cramped. We very limited. We're going to be able to spread out, have a great place for them to come in."

The 17-acre site will give the dealership room to expand with more inventory on site, and excellent visibility to cars passing the property on I-581.

With Magic City Ford and Berglund Chevrolet Buick nearby, the area will be a bigger draw for the region's car buyers.

"I would say to our friends up in Christiansburg, You may have the motor mile, but Roanoke's got the motor magnet," Bowers told WDBJ7 in an interview.

Doug Pridgen is the President of Haley Automotive Group. "This will be our newest and biggest facility when we get it done," Pridgen said in an interview. "We have 17 acres. That's very unusual to find that much for a dealership. We'll use a good part of it, because we're now on 4 1/2 acres, and it's just been extremely tight for us."

Construction on the new dealership will begin with site preparation in the next few weeks. And Haley employees hope to return for the ribbon cutting early next year.