Business & Real Estate

Costco negotiating again for north Auburn location


Eight months after abruptly walking away from a deal to open a Costco store in north Auburn, the warehouse retailer is back.

The Washington state-based company this month agreed to restart talks with Placer County officials about locating a store at the government center off Highway 49, according to the county. The two parties earlier this year were sued by the city of Auburn for allegedly failing to follow state environmental regulations.

Now that Costco has settled the lawsuit for $25,000, Auburn-area residents can once again look forward to buying gigantic jars of pickles and tubs of mayonnaise.

It is unclear when the Costco store could open. The county has given no timeline for negotiations. Costco officials did not respond to requests for comment.

“Costco has been interested in a store for a decade,” said Kirk Uhler, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, adding that he wasn’t surprised the company returned to the negotiating table.

The location in unincorporated north Auburn is considered ideal to capture shoppers from the Placer and Nevada County foothills. Currently, those residents typically drive to Roseville for the members-only retailer known for its bulk products and low prices.

Placer officials say the project will bring jobs and economic benefits to the region, in addition to rent payments to county coffers.

The previous proposal called for a 148,000-square-foot warehouse, 750 parking spaces and a gas station. The deal was expected to generate an estimated $18 million primarily in rent and tax revenue for the county over 20 years, according to officials.

The planned store had garnered controversy because several small businesses were being forced to move.

That issue is now moot since the two most vocal tenants, a theater company and the Auburn Senior Center, have new homes. The county paid $530,000 to relocate the senior center.

Auburn city officials are watching the developments carefully. They believe Costco could upend their downtown of boutique shops and increase traffic on city roads.

“The city’s residents are only a couple miles away,” said Auburn Councilman Daniel Berlant. “Their voices must be heard.”

Supervisor Jim Holmes, who represents the area where Costco would be built, promised to push for a comprehensive review of the project, evaluating both economic and environmental factors.

He noted that many of his constituents are longing for the store to open, adding that people already travel to Costco’s Roseville location to shop.

Asked about the potential impact to downtown Auburn’s storefronts, Holmes cited the example of his small automotive repair shop off Highway 49. When chains like Les Schwab and Midas showed up, his business was better than ever, the supervisor said.

“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. Not everyone shops at Costco,” said Holmes, who is not a member of the retailer.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang