Editorial: Costco a difficult decision
Carson City leaders must walk a tightrope in trying to lure huge discount stores like Costco to town.
For fans of Costco, it matters little what kind of deal is being put together. They travel regularly to Reno to shop, and they’d just be happy to have a store closer to home.
For some merchants in Carson City, they must wonder again if they are about to be overwhelmed by a mega-chain.
For taxpayers, there is the question of sales-tax dollars leaking away to Reno or, increasingly, Douglas County’s new commercial giants, Target and the Home Depot set to open in February.
City officials met this week with Costco to talk about a 15-acre site near Fuji Park at the base of Spooner Summit. It’s a high-traffic area already, and it will continue to be hub when the freeway is finished some day.
The property is owned by city residents, so we should be keeping an eye on just how these negotiations are going.
The first thing you should know is that the city can’t just sell the property to Costco. It would have to go to the highest bidder, so that taxpayers get the most money for their land.
However, there is apparently a way around that law. That’s the course city officials are laying out when they consider putting the 15 acres into a redevelopment district, which currently exists only for Carson City’s anemic downtown.
If the 15 acres near Fuji Park is placed into the redevelopment district, as we understand it, the city could strike a deal with a single company like Costco without seeking other bids.
On the surface, this sounds like a back-room deal that could cost taxpayers a bundle of cash, or mean the loss of land earmarked for a Fuji Park parking lot.
On the other hand, Costco has been shopping around for a site and, we guess, doesn’t much care which side of the Douglas-Carson line it’s on. What a company like Costco is looking for is a stoplight on a highway and, conveniently, one is now included at Clear Creek Road in the new design for the freeway interchange.
We don’t know whether the property is worth $13 million or $3 million (the potential range). A store the size of Costco could generate $1.51 million annually, although some of that would come from existing businesses.
Those are calculations city supervisors need to take into consideration and make available to taxpayers for their edification.
Is it a good deal? It’s hard to say unless we know if there is a better deal out there.