Builders now have the green light to start work on a new Costco store off West Bakerview Road.
The project’s building permit was approved Tuesday, June 21, more than a year after the retail warehouse giant filed for it.
The approval followed a June 6 decision by City Council to allow the company more time to get permission from neighboring property owners to build a needed turn lane. The extension could keep the project on track so the store might be ready to open by the end of the year.
As part of a settlement Costco made with Fred Meyer and the city in 2015, the company is required to build a new access road into the property and make improvements in the area to address traffic concerns.
In addition to building two eastbound left-turn lanes on West Bakerview Road near the proposed entrance, across from the existing Fred Meyer store, Costco is supposed to build a new westbound right-turn lane in the same area.
However, the company has not yet been able to secure the needed rights to build that westbound turn lane. So the council agreed to amend the settlement to allow Costco to continue with other work, so long as the company sets aside the money necessary to make those improvements, said Assistant City Attorney Alan Marriner.
I can’t speak for Costco, but I believe there is a sense of urgency to get moving.
Alan Marriner, assistant city attorney for Bellingham
The lane construction and other related work still has to happen before the store could open, but the change allows for more time to work out a deal, Marriner said.
“It resolves a timing issue, because Costco wants to get started with their project, and I think they want to be open by November 1st,” Marriner said. “I can’t speak for Costco, but I believe there is a sense of urgency to get moving.”
When asked questions about the progress of the project, Costco Communications Coordinator Nikki Chellew said in an email, “Unfortunately, it is our company policy to not comment regarding future Costco locations.”
Other construction that will take place for the new store includes a new road the city will build called Mahogany Avenue, connecting Pacific Highway, which parallels Interstate 5, and Northwest Avenue. It will cost $8.5 million, with city, state and federal funding, according to the 2017 to 2022 Transportation Improvement Program project list.
$8.5 million Total budgeted cost to build Mahogany Avenue, which will connect Pacific Highway to Northwest Avenue and provide access to a new Costco
$2.75 million Portion of total cost to come from the Bellingham street fund
$3.75 million Portion from the state Transportation Improvement Board and federal Surface Transportation Program
$2.25 million Portion from other city funds
Costco also will build a five-lane north-south entrance road called Arctic Avenue to get customers to its warehouse, across from the Fred Meyer parking lot entrance. Costco would connect Arctic Avenue with Mahogany Avenue.
The new Costco building will be about 160,000 square feet, which is about 30,000 square feet larger than the existing Meridian Street store, and will make it about the same size as the Fred Meyer across the street.
Plans show the site will have about 830 parking spots.
Costco has not said what it will do with the existing Meridian store once the new store opens. However, that location has been listed for sale for $7 million since August 2015, according to LoopNet.