CENTRAL POINT — Local residents will soon be able to view Costco's designs for a new 160,000-square-foot store and fueling station near the airport.
The Issaquah, Wash., membership warehouse retailer has submitted plans for a conditional use permit and site plan review on an L-shaped, 18-acre parcel bound by Hamrick Road to the north, Table Rock Road to the east, and Federal Way and the FedEx trucking terminal to the west. The southern terminus of the development would be bordered by an extension of Airport Road that would connect with Federal Way.
Tom Humphrey, Central Point community development director, said once the application is deemed complete, much of the packet will appear on the city's website.
"We're trying to get it on the Planning Commission agenda for Dec. 1," Humphrey said. "We gave them some cutoff deadlines so we can do noticing and get comments from other agencies, and they met the cutoff deadlines. They've been really conscientious about listening to our concerns."
If all goes as planned, Humphrey said, construction could begin as early as next spring.
"They would like to be open by this time next year," he said.
A telephone message seeking comment from Mario Omoss, Costco's Northwest Region senior vice president, was not returned.
Last spring, Costco applied to build a 155,548-square-foot warehouse along with a fueling station west of Northgate Marketplace in Medford. The application was withdrawn in May when Medford planners said there were potential pedestrian and vehicle problems at one of the main entrances. Although a Costco spokesman indicated the site off North Central Avenue was still in play in May, it became apparent time was a factor and the $116.2 billion company soon turned its gaze on southeast Central Point.
With a series of traffic projects planned for Table Rock into 2018, Humphrey said the city asked whether Costco could wait. But given the operational costs associated with its present location on Highway 62, the company elected to push forward.
"They were reluctant to put a lot of money into the store they already have when they can start building a more environmentally sophisticated building," Humphrey said. "The home office wanted to move ahead sooner rather than later. They said they would do the transportation studies and make stop-gap improvements until public (road) improvements are done. They were willing to live with the inconvenience for a while. If you know a fix is in the works, the congestion might be easier to accept."
In addition to being 18 percent larger than the 24-year-old, 136,000-square-foot Costco next to the North Medford Walmart Superstore, the new Costco's fuel stop will have two additional bays, Humphrey said.
The project will surpass the 108,000-square-foot Mountain View Plaza west of Interstate 5, which began in the late 1990s, as the largest commercial development in Central Point. It promises to set off a ripple of smaller commercial development on its perimeter.
"When something that large and dynamic comes to a community like Central Point, it will spur other development," said Jeremy Leever, of Pulver & Leever Real Estate Co. "There will be a domino effect; it energizes the surrounding area. There's got to be a need and an end user, but it should get things rolling."
Humphrey noted that commercial developers are waiting in the wings along East Pine Street and elsewhere.
"If this is successful in going through planning, and construction begins, there will be incentive for other people," Humphrey said. "They'll go, 'Hey, this is really going to happen,' and jump on the bandwagon. We could get really busy. It could be pretty exciting here for a while."
Up into the 1980s, Central Point expected the area south of Pine Street and east of Bear Creek to become residential. But that changed as land closer to the freeway became desirable. In 1998, Humphrey said, the city elected to flop industrial and residential elements to be consistent with Medford's designation. State and local economic developers sought to recruit businesses to the area with minimal success.
"The site is desirable and has been shovel-ready for a decade," Humphrey said. "We annexed the land into the city and then it languished."
The two entities that presently occupy the territory east of Hamrick Road and south of Pine Street are trucking firm USF Reddaway and FedEx Ground at 555 Federal Way.
Developer Cris Galpin made the infrastructure improvements before the property was taken over by PremierWest Bank. Federal Way Development LLC, connected to the bank's largest shareholder, Georges St. Laurent, acquired the approximately 18.27 acres for $1.25 million in December 2012, shortly before PremierWest was merged into AmericanWest Bank. A portion of the property fronting Table Rock Road is controlled by Medford commercial real estate broker John Hamlin. (Correction: Hamlin's first name has been corrected in this story.)
"The property isn't surrounded by residential area, so we don't anticipate much opposition to a large, regional destination center," Humphrey said. "We're not going to see a lot of other big boxes pop up as a result."
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/EconomicEdge.