By John Lauritsen

CHANHASSEN, Minn. (WCCO) — From the outside, it looks like you’re cruising through another Twin Cities storage complex. But on the inside of this Chanhassen building, the doors open to reveal a whole world of possibilities.

“We bring folks together to be able to celebrate what we call our passions,” said Bruno Silikowski.

The common denominator: cars.

automotorplex Finding Minnesota: Creating The Garage Mahal At AutoMotorPlex

(credit: CBS)

Nine years ago, Silikowski came up with the idea for the AutoMotorPlex as a place where enthusiasts can buy a garage and create their own “urban cabin.”

“I’ve always had an affinity for cars,” Silikowski said. “Collecting cars, driving cars, racing cars, anything to do with an engine attached to it I get pretty excited about it.”

He quickly learned he’s far from alone.

His complex has 146 garages, and all of them have been sold to people who want to create their own “Garage Mahal.”

“The first thing they see is the Batmobile, and then it just kind of goes from there,” said Mike Karch.

batmobiler Finding Minnesota: Creating The Garage Mahal At AutoMotorPlex

(credit: CBS)

Karch’s mobil-themed garage has plenty of crime fighters to look over his collection — from Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Machine to the Green Hornet.

Karch has 40 cars, ended up buying two garages, side by side, to store a part of his collection. Above the garage, he and his wife transition from hobby to home. They have a full bath, kitchen and other perks that enable them to host parties.

“We tell people, ‘You want to come over for dinner? Just come over to the garage,'” Karch said.

Then there’s the Gator Garage.

gator automotorplex Finding Minnesota: Creating The Garage Mahal At AutoMotorPlex

(credit: CBS)

“I hear people during the car show say, ‘I know the alligator is here somewhere,'” said Del Smith.

For Smith, the car is the centerpiece but his garage is really more about celebrating a love for the outdoors. Elk and other mounts line the walls of his garage condo.

“Instead of having a place up north, it’s a place to come. I’m only about 2 miles away from the complex here so we come here quite often,” Smith said.

But this isn’t just about showing off what’s inside. People here are all about giving back. Car show events help raise money for United Way, Gillette Children’s Hospital and many others.

“You see somebody out here, you stop by and talk to him. Maybe have a beer with him,” said Tom Robb.

Robb is sort of the resident mechanic.

He has a shop in the back of his European village-themed garage. And he’ll order parts from anywhere.

“I’ve ordered from the East Coast, West Coast, Texas, Florida,” Robb said.

At Robb’s place, the view inside and outside are both impressive.

At the AutoMotorPlex, no two garages are the same. And that’s just the way they like it.

“It’s more than just a garage. It’s an area where people can meet,” Robb said. “It becomes a hobby, a community, a place where you can come and meet with guys that have a similar hobby that you have. And work on cars and enjoy it.”

Garages start at $170,000 and they aren’t residential.

There are 300 people on a waiting list at the Chanhassen location.

Because of that, they’ve started building a new complex, and the first buildings will be ready this winter.

For more information on AutoMotorPlex, click here.


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