If New Britain doesn’t want Costco, neighboring towns do. Representatives of Costco made that point very clear Tuesday night to the City Planning and Zoning Committee of the Common Council.
Joe Montesano, of Northwest Atlantic, representing Costco said he has been working with Mayor Timothy Stewart for about a year on a plan to bring Costco to Hartford Rd. But, during the last three months in which the council has delayed the project, offers from other towns wanting the store have come forward.
“We need to know where we stand so we can move forward,” said Montesano. “We believe strongly we can be an asset to the City.”
Montesano said Costco was willing to move forward with a Plan B option only. This entails acquiring 15 acres of land owned by the state that is located in Newington. Although Plan B involves moving two golf holes ad renovating two more at Stanley Golf Course, it would not use park land which was objected to by many residents in Plan A.
Montesano said Costco would like an answer at the next common council meeting on Sept. 14 for a zoning change and then in Oct. be allowed to discuss purchasing the property with the mayor. If this does not happen, Costco is prepared to go elsewhere.
Officials said the property was assessed between $4.1 and $4.4 million. Montesano said Costco was interested in purchasing it somewhere in the upper $3 million mark. He said negotiations would take place to reach an agreement everyone would feel comfortable with and that would come before the council for approval at a further date.
Several aldermen voiced concerns that if Newington wanted Costco they may not approve the purchase of 15 acres of land on Hartford Rd near Route 9.
Stewart said that would be “unneighborly” and doubted that would happen.
“They have indicated they have no interest in the property,” said Stewart. “Newington would have to purchase it and why would they want it…I think it looks quite good for us to purchase that property.”
Stewart sent information to Newington indicating the City is interested in the property.
The only place the Newington land connects to, is the parcel Costco is looking to purchase in New Britain.
Montesano also stated that Costco has no interest in building in any other site in New Britain than this one.
“Mayor Stewart told us he had a great site for us at Pinnacle Heights. We analyzed it and we don’t belong at Pinnacle Heights,” said Montesano. “Costco is a generator of traffic and likes to be near those where retail traffic congregates. This happens to be the corridor where the golf course is located.”
Costco has spent $300,000 on this project, but will not spend more unless the zoning is approved.
“We will not spend another penny of Costco’s money until we get a vote up or down on the zoning change,” said Montesano. “Costco remains committed in being part of this community.”
The project would bring in $475,000 in new taxes and 220 jobs.
Several Aldermen seemed pleased with the new plan.
“I feel very strongly about New Britain moving forward with this discussion with Costco. To do anything less would be very unfortunate,” said Alderman Carlo Carlozzi Jr. “They want that location, no doubt about it and we can work out a deal that is good for New Britain and good for Costco.”
“I was always a supporter of Costco and one of the first to come out for Plan B,” said Alderman Paul Catanzaro. “I think it’s a win-win. I think we will pass the zone change next Wednesday at the Council Meeting and go from there.”
“I was convinced a long time ago that Costco knew what they were doing and knew where they wanted to be,” said Alderman Lou Salvio.
“There was a lot of apprehension in the first plan, Plan A,” said Alderman Mark Bernacki. “It’s good to hear it wasn’t a take it or leave it.”
“We really appreciate the information and time and effort put in,” said Alderman David DeFronzo.
The Tuesday night meeting came about as the Democratic Majority gave the mayor a petition asking for the meeting to answer questions before approving or disapproving a zone change on the property.