Douglas, Carson woo Costco
Carson City’s excited utterances about Costco are not cause for concern in Douglas County, one county leader says.
County Commissioner Don Miner says the retailer’s well-publicized interest in 15 acres in south Carson City amounts to a clever negotiating tactic, not a signal that Douglas County is out of the derby to land a Costco store.
“I’m convinced that the best site for them, in the long run, and the one with the acreage and visibility and highway access, is in our county,” said Miner. “I believe they’re good negotiators, and they tend to make everybody feel as though whatever site they’re considering is the ultimate site.”
The current “ultimate site” is on 15 acres adjacent to Fuji Park, at Highway 50 and Highway 395 just north of the Carson-Douglas line. Carson City officials are considering making the acreage part of the city’s redevelopment area, a move that would allow the city to negotiate solely with Costco instead of putting the property through a public bid process.
After a flurry of activity in recent days – three Carson City groups have recommended adding the property to the redevelopment district – Carson City officials appear confident that Costco will land on their side of the county line.
But Bill Wellman, president of Sunridge Corp., which built the Sunridge subdivision and golf course in northern Douglas County and has 46 acres of commercially zoned land along Highway 395, reinforced Miner’s assertion that Costco is just a savvy negotiator.
He says Costco sent Sunridge a letter of intent earlier in the year saying Costco wanted to move forward with a Sunridge site.
“I thought we were moving forward with Costco, and now we find out they’re dealing with Carson City and we’re talking about that site at Fuji Park,” said Wellman. “Costco is out shopping the market. I think this is a ploy to tie up as many pieces of property as they can to keep their competitors out.”
The Sunridge site is one of two in northern Douglas County that have been suggested as potential Costco locations. The other is on the opposite side of the highway, at the corner of Jacks Valley Road and Highway 395, north of Target and Home Depot. That land is in the county’s redevelopment area and is being developed by JS Devco.
County officials have been trying to arrange a trade of 28 acres of Forest Service land adjacent to the Devco property to make the area more attractive toretailers like Costco. Miner said private acreage has been identified to complete the trade, but the paperwork will probably take several months.
A Devco representative said an announcement about additional stores might be made in mid-January.
Costco representatives have not returned telephone calls from reporters.
The county hasn’t issued any building permits for the complex since construction started on Target and Home Depot.
Until an announcement is made, Douglas boosters will keep promoting the county. Miner and Wellman say Douglas County offers advantages like lower taxes, better visibility and access.
“The comment that the Carson City site would work better because of timing doesn’t make sense,” said Wellman. “If Costco is sincere and wants to build a store as quickly as possible, our property is available. It’s just interesting. If Costco is interested in moving ahead, then the only site available to them is ours.”
Miner thinks potential controversy with the Fuji Park site could work to Douglas County’s advantage. Already, some Carson residents have expressed concerns about the impact of a Costco store on Fuji Park, and Carson parks officials have said the park might have to be relocated.
“Costco won’t want to go into an area where the circumstances that surround them coming in are embarrassing,” Miner said. “We have a lower sales tax and a complementary area to go into.”
Miner also said Douglas’ timing will match Carson City’s efforts to draw Costco. Approval for the Fuji Park land probably wouldn’t become final until late January or early February, giving the Douglas property owners time to promote their sites.
“(The Douglas County properties) could be operational by next Christmas,” said Miner. “That would work out just about perfect for them, and I don’t know where there’s a better site.”