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Costco back in Auburn?

Placer County has 16-acre parcel that giant retailer wants to study for store location
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County supervisors are poised to make their first move toward what could eventually lead to construction of a Costco store on county-owned land in North Auburn. The Board of Supervisors is being asked Tuesday to sign a contract with Roseville’s Conkey Real Estate Development to work with Costco and the county to explore the feasibility of a store on a 16-acre parcel. The land – now undeveloped and part of the Placer County Government Center – sits immediately south of Home Depot. Conkey and the Bohemia Properties partnership spent nearly three decades attempting to win county approvals for development of a Wal-Mart near Luther Road. That was accomplished 13 months ago and the parcel was subsequently sold to Wal-Mart, which is moving toward a spring construction start. At the time, Conkey said Costco was also in the running to build. Jim Durfee, facilities services director, said studies to update a master plan for the government center showed that the county’s own needs for land to build are being met and that there is additional capacity at the North Auburn site for private commercial development at the site. Facility services received an unsolicited request from Conkey to develop a Costco Warehouse store, Durfee said. Conkey had said during public hearings leading to the Wal-Mart approval that Costco was also interested in the property but backed away because of legal concerns while Wal-Mart proceeded. Under the proposed “exclusive right to negotiate” agreement, Conkey will have a year and pay $15,000 to offset county costs to explore development with Costco. The work would include preliminary studies of grading and traffic issues. Conkey would pay $5,000 for each of two, six-month extensions. District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes, whose district takes in the government center properties, said that he met with Conkey and a couple of Costco representatives about six months ago. “I know they’ve been interested,” Holmes aid. “We’ve had a lot of people express positive comments about Costco not only attracting customers from Auburn and North Auburn but from Lake of the Pines, Meadow Vista and Colfax. It’s probably going to be popular with people.” District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said she didn’t have objections to a limited time frame to explore the possibility of a Costco at the North Auburn site. The two six-month extensions also would be acceptable, she said. “I would have been much happier if what turned out to be Wal-Mart (at the site near Luther Road) turned out to be Costco,” Montgomery said. With Wal-Mart moving ahead with a potential North Auburn construction start this spring and Target also looking at an expansion, Montgomery said it will be important to look at the cumulative impacts of increased traffic from the projects on Highway 49 and other potential problems the developments could create. The Board of Supervisors meeting takes place starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8 in the Board Chambers, 175 Fulweiler Ave., Auburn.