You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 6:03 a.m.

Costco proposal heads to Pittsfield Township Planning Commission tonight

By Paula Gardner

costco image.jpg

The proposed Costco in Pittsfield Township would be 139,891 square feet, a size that's midway in the chain's typical floorplates.

Web archives

Shoppers who want a Costco near Ann Arbor won’t be the only ones to benefit if the popular warehouse club gets approval to build a store in Pittsfield Township.

Nearby property owners also expect to gain visibility and value by being close to the third largest retailer in the nation.

“There’s no question that Costco will add to the community,” said Bob Andrus, commercial broker at Michigan Commercial Realty. “… Everyone is anticipating a lot of new business.”

Costco’s effort to build a store in Washtenaw County will move forward tonight when the company’s development plans go in front of the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission.

So far, no official concerns from residents or nearby businesses have been raised, but the public will have a chance to weigh in during a 6:30 p.m. hearing.

“The reaction has been positive,” said Paul Montagno, the township’s planning director.

That includes reaction from nearby property owners like Jeff Hauptman of Oxford Co., which owns and operates the Oxford Commerce Park just south of the proposed site.

Many property owners and developers have looked at the commercial corridor -about ¼-mile south of the I-94 interchange - as prime for eventual commercial expansion. They say it likely will be hastened if the store gets permission to build.

“We’re excited about the prospect of Costco bringing more traffic to that area,” Hauptman said.

Costco is seeking rezoning for 17 acres bordered by Airport Boulevard, Ellsworth Road and the Tyner’s Furniture store on South State. (See full site plan here.) The area is northwest of the State and Ellsworth intersection.

A business park now occupies the site, and many businesses there already have begun relocating.

costco site plan.jpg
As part of the rezoning request, the store submitted preliminary site plans. Those plans show the store next to Ellsworth, a gas station on the northeast portion of the property and parking spanning the curve along Airport from the gas station to the western edge of the store.

The store would be 139,891 square feet, with an additional 5,807-square-foot tire center and the gas station.

So far, local developers and commercial real estate agents say they’re anticipating approval of the store would yield a “Costco effect” nearby, spurring more retail and service-oriented development.

Still, as the community watches the official approval process for the store start tonight, real estate speculation so far hasn’t taken hold. Even if the store is approved quickly, industry experts say it could be years before the corridor sees a dramatic increase in the additional commercial development most of them predict.

Mike Martin of the First Martin Corp. said the first benefit from Costco to nearby developments would be traffic stabilization.

Today, the State/Ellsworth intersection is heavily traveled, but typically only peaks at the beginning and end of weekday work hours.

That’s an important consideration for potential tenants at First Martin’s planned retail redevelopment in the former Enzo’s restaurant on the northeast corner of the intersection, Martin said. Those retailers are looking for sales opportunities for entire weekdays and on weekends, not just limited peak traffic hours.

“Retailers that we’ve spoken to in the past … have raised issues with the site because there aren’t the (residential) rooftops to support a store in that location,” he said.

Across Ellsworth, Speedway has started construction a new gas station and expanded convenience store that replaces a smaller store on the site. Those plans were initiated in 2007, before Costco announced its plans for the area.

Other nearby developments - like the former Enzo’s and plans to redevelop the former Pinter’s Flowerland into a 9,000-square-foot retail center - remain on hold. Both went through planning before Costco zeroed in on the township.

“Costco is going to make that corner lot more visible,” said Tom Stachler of Real Estate One, the listing agent for the Pinter’s property. It’s offered for sale for $995,000 and includes the approved site plan.

Andrus, who recently listed a one-acre parcel just north of the First Martin property, agrees.

“The hottest spots are gong to be the spot between Ellsworth and I-94 on State,” he said. “You have five times the population base to the north (of the proposed store) and that expressway access to generate the traffic.”

The addition of Costco shoppers is also expected to be valuable for existing businesses.

Tim Marshall, president of Bank of Ann Arbor, said his bank is perfectly positioned to reap the exposure from a Costco store. The bank built a branch at Ellsworth and Airport Boulevard in 2006.

“We’ve got good demographics, good traffic counts, good visibility - all of those factors were taken into consideration several years ago, not really knowing that Costco would show up and create the traffic counts that they’ll be creating,” he said.

Tyner’s Furniture also plans to remain in its building, owner Fred Miller has told township officials.

At tonight’s meeting, planning commissioners will react to the rezoning plans and likely will make recommendations to the developer. No final approval will take place, Montagno said.

In coming months, the planning commission will make a rezoning recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which will make the final determination on the developer’s request.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

As for flipping, my thought is the front door would remain realively in the same place. Instead of the northwest corner, it would now be the southwest corner. With the buses- city buses go into the Meijer parking lot up to the building, I see no reason they wouldn't do the same for Costco. Then also the gas station would be on Ellsworth which might be more convinent for drivers.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

Great diagrams. I've wondered for a spell exactly where it will be located.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 7:27 a.m.

Sidewalks being used? Todd Austin must be very unfamiliar with the area. I travel by it several times a day and have never, ever seen someone walking along the sidewalk. Why? There are no homes there or retail businesses. This is not downtown Ann Arbor. What will be disrupted is a "Duck Crossing" (a road sign) that is used by Canada Geese to go from a pond across Airport road to the grass on the soon-to-be Costco side. I'm sure that Costco will persuade the AA Bus to stop next to its building just as it does at the Pittsfield Twp Meijers and at Best Buy / Borders/ Kohls. I've never seen someone walking along AA-Saline in front of Meijers, either.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 3:53 p.m.

They have the yummiest cakes and it would be so close! I'm rooting for ya!

Stephen Landes

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:46 a.m.

@Paula Gardner Thank you for including the drawings with your article. I find being able to see what is proposed is far more helpful than reading text descriptions. Too often we (as in all of us) don't avail ourselves of the other tools that the internet allows for communication -- graphics including tables, charts, drawings, sketches, etc. I know there are issues with differential system/connection capabilities, so not all your readers can take advantage of the "extras", but that doesn't mean we shouldn't provide them for those who can see them.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:28 a.m.

In re to Sam's Club v Costco, we go to both. Prefer Costco a little more, but each has items the other does not. You have to shop at either often and wisely to make it a real bargain - price compare, not everything is less expensive than the grocery store. Also the bill is always large because of the large packages. Since for us Costco is much closer we may drop Sam's Club, which is not going to be an issue. Sure wish Costco had the big jar of jalapenos for less than $4 though!!


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:12 a.m.

While I've never shopped at a Costco, I've heard plenty of good things both about their business practices and about the quality and price of their goods. It will be interesting to check it out. On the building location, I applaud the location along Ellsworth. Businesses should always be located along the sidewalk for ready access by foot traffic. Locating businesses at the backs of huge parking lots with little or nothing in the way of safe sidewalks by which to access them is, sadly, far too common. AATA bus service stops near there, so customers on foot will be treated equally to those coming one-by-one in private cars. Kudos to the site planners.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

Thanks Pittsfield for welcoming jobs, taxes and a great store in Ann Arbor. Also Scio does not want growth, they make it to hard for builders. Every builder dreads a business proposal in Scio because the board is known for being hard nosed about every business ttying to come into the township. Costco did try to go on Zeeb rd, Scio should have directed them on Jackson & Baker at expressway. Costco wasn't going to bow down to them so they took there company and there tax base and great jobs and went somewhere else where they were welcomed and wouldn't have to fight about it.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 10:11 a.m.

Completely different from Sam's club. Real wages, construction that buys local materials, uses local labor. Sams Club and WalMart farm ALL labor to out of area workers. Easy to check on former business practices.

Marvin Face

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

If you don't like working at Sam's/Wal-mart or don't think they pay fair wages or you feel you are treated unfairly, I have some advice: Don't work there. Last time I checked, they had a full staff and a stack of applications. Must be doing something right! I buy my cig's down at the fillin' station.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

Makes sense, keep enjoyin' those 5$ a pack ciggies! Thanks for doin' your part to keep the Dr in business! Make sure you keep the Wal Mart family the richest in the world, who continues to give nothing back and screw their employees! That's principle!!

Marvin Face

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

Costco and Sam's IS essentially the same thing. I'll continue to shop at Sam's on principle.

Blue Marker

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:42 a.m.

I'm a Scio resident who's glad it's going to be in Pittsfield. The traffic on Zeeb (which is where Costco wanted, not Jackson) is already too much. On that note, the traffic at State and Ellsworth is already very heavy. It should be interesting to see how that is handled.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

Costco is in no way anything like Sam's Club or Wal Mart. Costco is a responsible employer (now the nation's 3rd largest retailer) who pays better than average wages,provides solid benefits and only sells quality products. I hope the new Costco here in Ann Arbor puts the Wal Mart in Saline out of business, although I doubt it will.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

Isn't Costco the same thing as Sams Club? Sounds to me like it is. Might give them a run for their money. Especially since Sams sells gas cheaper then Speedway. I might go for the grand opening, but don't see any difference. When would it open? 5 years from now?


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

So looks like Scio loses by not letting them in at Jackson and Baker rds. What a shame that is a more open area in my opinion.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

Where's the meeting tonight?


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 8:49 a.m.

Cannot wait! I am happy about not having to drive up on 23.. and being able to combine my other errands in the area with a Costco trip.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:38 a.m.

Great to see the Costco project moving forward. It's too bad they somehow can't get Tyner to flip-flop locations with Costco, and put the latter on the corner of Ellsworth and State instead. Tyner uses only a fraction of the parking space that's just sitting there, plus they're more of a pure destination business anyway. But, I'm sure they don't want to spend the money to move into a new place either.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:36 a.m.

I won't have to go to Brighton any one


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Thats right lets start shopping local! Like the senic trip to Brighton, but they have too many accidents on us 23. Keep the funds in A2 and most of the jobs.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:03 a.m.

I'm happy to see this moving forward. I find it quite inconvenient and expexsive gas and time wise to truck up to the Livonia store off of I-275. I'm glad to see a gas station being included!


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 6:57 a.m.

YAY for COSTCO! This will keep AA residents from driving to Livonia or Brighton to shop at Costco. A great business decision.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 6:51 a.m.

Bring it on. I won't camp out in a tent for the grand opening but I will be a steady customer.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 6:36 a.m.

The township has been meeting with the road commission and Ann Arbor. Here's a previous story on it: Ann Arbor is responsible for State from I-94 to Ellsworth, including part of the Ellsworth intersection. Ellsworth is a county road.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 5:59 a.m.

I'm curious who will decide how the local roads need to be changed and when that would be decided? Is that a pittsfield, or ann arbor or michigan state responsibility? The traffic patterns and how the roads are altered to handle the increased traffic will greatly effect the success of this area.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 5:44 a.m.

Just quickly looking over the plan pictured here, I wish that the building was not right along Ellsworth. Flip it to the north side. Keep it feeling more open.