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Wal-Mart" Costco" Lowe’s" New study stacks up three scenarios for North Auburn site

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Plans for a 155,000-square-foot building that could house a Costco, Wal-Mart or even a Lowe’s home-improvement center are moving forward in North Auburn. The state-required environmental impact report will be reviewed in its draft form today at a meeting of the North Auburn Municipal Advisory Committee. The project site is near Luther Road and Highway 49. Area residents have expressed concerns about traffic onto narrow Canal Street and on Luther Road. The main entrance would be on Hulbert Way while a second entrance would come off Canal Street. Richard McClellan, a resident near the proposed development, said Monday that those in the area hope the access issue gets settled. “We prefer no access except for emergency vehicles,” McClellan said. “We hope they don’t bother with the Canal Street access.” Titled “Bohemia Retail” the five-inch-thick, three-volume report prepared by Sacramento’s Raney Planning & Management, is the third proposal Roseville developer Jim Conkey has tendered with Placer County for the property. The cost for the report has already gone over $300,000. A 1993 environmental review weathered a lengthy court battle with Auburn-area residents opposed to a planned Wal-Mart but was withdrawn in 2000. Conkey tried again in 2007 with a low- to moderate-income housing development on the 18.6-acre site. But he backed off when market conditions kept it from being profitable. This time around, Conkey maintains that Costco has been part of the development process with the county. Costco has been contacted several times but remains silent on what its plans are. Conkey says he doesn’t want to rule out the possibility that Costco’s participation plans could change, leaving him looking for another tenant – so he’s applying no label to denote what kind of store will be going in. While it doesn’t name names, Raney Planning & Management is touching on three categories of potential retail for the site – a club store such as Costco, a discount superstore like Wal-Mart and a home-improvement center. “The number and type of future tenants are not known but will be selected during or after improvement of the site,” the Raney report states. The projected sales for all three types of stores were researched for an “Urban Decay Study” by consultant firm Economics Research Associates that is part of the environmental impact report. The report is being presented today to the North Auburn MAC. The council could make a recommendation that would go to a Feb. 25 hearing on Bohemia Retail in front of the Placer County Planning Commission. The study projected the club store would total $143 million annually in sales, compared with $79 million for the discount supercenter and 45 million for the home-improvement business. Under the club-store scenario, shopper demand for goods in the area would outpace the club store’s impact on existing businesses by 2015. The estimate is based on population and growth projections made in late 2008. The lone downside for existing retailers would be in appliances and furnishings, the report stated. “It’s possible that existing retailers will simply be unable to compete with the new project,” Economics Research stated. The new store – in whichever form it takes on – would prove a moneymaker for county coffers, according to the report. A separate transportation study that’s part of environmental documentation being considered by the MAC tonight states that the discount club store would generate a net increase of 6,025 vehicle trips daily while the discount superstore would generate 7,334. The review period for the environmental document started late last month and runs through March 4. Comments on the merits of the project will be considered at a later hearing dealing with entitlements on the property. ------------------------ Fast facts: What’s in store -County revenues from property taxes and sales taxes for a discount club store would be $898,000 annually – while costing the county just $50,000 a year in operational costs. -A new discount super center would provide a net benefit of $586,000 annually to the county while a home-improvement center would bring in $415,000. -Dollar amounts represent “best-case scenarios.” -The “Urban Decay Study” bases its projections on stores with hours of operation from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. -It also estimates that the store would need 200 full- and part-time employees. Source: Economics Research Associates ------------------------------ North Auburn Municipal Advisory Council When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9 Where: Planning Commission Chambers, Community Resource Development Agency Building, 3091 County Center Drive, North Auburn