DOWN TO BUSINESS – Whether or not the Capital Region sees a Costco built near Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, the suburban Seattle-based warehouse club operator is steaming ahead with new brick-and-mortar locations.
In fiscal 2022, which ended last month, Costco Wholesale Corp. opened 23 new members-only stores; it has plans for 25 more for fiscal 2023, executives said on a conference call last week to discuss earnings.
As of August, Costco had 838 stores worldwide, 578 of them in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
But a site in Guilderland has proved a challenge.
The project got entangled in lawsuits against the town and mall owner Pyramid Management Group, which looked to develop land around Crossgates that some saw as encroaching on nearby residences and sensitive environmental areas.
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Ultimately, a mid-level appeals court in Albany ruled in May that the town sufficiently reviewed the cumulative impact of Crossgates’ plans for three sites identified for development: one for apartments on 19 acres near the Macy’s end of the mall; one for Costco on 16 acres close to Western Avenue; and a third on 11 acres also close to Western, with no set plans yet.
A spokesman for Pyramid Management declined to offer an update on the Costco project this week.
Guilderland Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik said the Costco application “is still active,” with town review ongoing on needed road improvements.
“There are significant traffic safety and pedestrian improvements proposed for Rapp Road/Crossgates Mall Road associated with the Costco,” he noted in an email this week. The two roads give access to the mall from Western Avenue, and plans call for a third road, Gabriel Terrace, bordering the Costco site, to be extended from Western to the mall.
The proposed store, at 160,000 square feet with 700 parking spaces and a gas station, would need a special-use permit from the town. Kovalchik said the town’s zoning and planning boards will be involved, with the planning board expected to take the first step in the process — site plan review — “in the next month or so” after final application revisions by Pyramid.
Costco, citing company policy of not commenting on future stores, declined to answer my email inquiry on how important a location in the Albany area might be. Costco has stores upstate in Rochester and Syracuse, but the closest one to us is in West Springfield, Mass., about 90 minutes away.
The company touts “one of the largest and most exclusive product category selections to be found under a single roof,” with stores carrying groceries and big-box general merchandise, appliances and electronics, as well offering pharmacy, optical, travel and other services.
Its three levels of membership, with annual fees of $60 or $120, accounted for $4.2 billion of total fiscal 2022 revenue of nearly $227 billion in total, Costco executives said last week.
Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said no increase in fees due to inflation was planned yet, but “it’s a question of when, not if” that occurs.
Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected]