Costco proposal heads to Pittsfield Township Planning Commission tonight
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 Â¼-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.
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.