Officials from Costco Wholesale Corp. of Issaquah, Wash., made their case before the Fort Wayne Plan Commission on Monday to erect a 150,000-square-foot store at the northwest corner of Lima and Progress roads. The store would create 200 jobs – half of them full-time, company officials said.
City Councilman Tom Smith, R-1st, said the retailer wouldn’t regret choosing the Summit City. The project could be completed by November 2013. Smith said residents are clamoring for a Costco as evidenced by a Fort Wayne Monthly survey.
“It was at the top of the list,” he said regarding the Fort Wayne Newspapers publication. Fort Wayne Newspapers is the business unit of The Journal Gazette.
“I know you industry guys talk, so see what you can do about getting a Trader Joe’s (grocery) here, too,” Smith said. “They wouldn’t be disappointed either.”
First things first, though. The Costco development has proposed taking root on the former grounds of Seyfert Foods Inc. The membership warehouse club would carry various foods and merchandise, much of it in bulk sizes.
Besides giving residents another wholesale shopping option, Costco signals a vote of confidence in Fort Wayne, Smith said.
“It speaks highly of the city that they want to locate here,” he said after the hearing. “We’re excited, and it says a lot when these types of stores want to come to Fort Wayne.”
Steve Zacher, president of the Zacher Co., is the real estate agent for the project. He said Costco caters to middle- to upper-middle-income households and may improve Fort Wayne’s cachet with other developers.
“They also offer good-paying jobs,” Zacher said.
Officials from Costco declined to comment until the plan commission votes on the request at 5 p.m. Monday.
Costco’s development plan was filed with Kelley Chevrolet, which wants to relocate near the warehouse’s grounds. In March, DeHaven Chevrolet dropped a lawsuit trying to stop General Motors Co.’s endorsement of Kelley’s move from East State Boulevard to the intersection of Lima Road and Interstate 69.
Under a 2001 Indiana law, dealerships were prohibited from moving to within six miles of an existing competitor of the same brand, but this year, state lawmakers led by Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, changed the law.
As for Costco, it has more than 600 locations worldwide, employing 160,292 workers. The business recorded about $89 billion in revenue in 2011.