New Britain City Journal

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Final Costco Details Finishing Up

The retail wholesaler Costco will break ground on its Hartford Road location later this fall, city officials said this week.

“We’re hoping for shovels in the ground in October,” Mayor Timothy O’Brien’s deputy chief of staff Phil Sherwood said in an interview. “The negotiations ended a long time ago. It’s a done deal.”

Residents may see some work being done over the summer, however, such as clear cutting trees to begin readying the site for the construction of the 160,000 square foot building.

The final leg of the project, which has been in the making for several years, will occur during the last days of the General Assembly’s final session that ends in the first week of June. Lawmakers will vote on a package of legislation that includes conveying to the city 15.49 acres of land in Newington owned by the state Department of Transportation and two other land exchanges. Officials say the support for the conveyance is overwhelming and do not expect any hang-ups.

“It’s been a complicated process that involves multiple state agencies, two municipalities, and a private company,” Sherwood explained. “The project can only go as fast as the slowest component, which is the conveyance.”

Sherwood said that many people, the mayor included, wanted to see construction begin much sooner.

While some residents may be questioning why the project is moving so slowly, Sherwood said the project has “actually been fast tracked” as city officials have been working diligently to lobby in Hartford on behalf of the development.

“Much of what needed to be done happened under the (former Mayor Timothy) Stewart administration,” Sherwood said. “The last couple of steps happened under the O’Brien administration. They were timely and important steps.”

A public hearing on the project was held several months ago and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reviewed the project’s plans.

The 15.49 acre parcel, located between Route 9 and the New Britain-Newington town line, is needed to reconstruct three holes at Stanley Golf Course that will be interrupted by the project. City workers are currently brainstorming how and when to do the work at the golf course, but Sherwood said the work should begin in the fall as well. “It’s a revenue generator for the city and we don’t want to inconvenience golfers more than necessary.”

In exchange, Newington will receive 68 acres owned by the city, while another 23 acres will be set aside as a conservation easement. The State Properties Review Board must review and approve the exchange of the land parcels.

Representatives from Costco recently met with fire officials and workers from the Building Department for a two-hour meeting to review the project’s plans and identify any pitfalls before dirt gets moved around, Sherwood said. The feedback was positive, he added.

The business is expected to bring around 200 jobs to the city and $475,000 in annual tax revenue. City officials say Costco has a reputation of providing high quality jobs, in terms of benefits and pay. Forbes magazine has placed Costco at No. 3 on it’s top 10 places to work list.

“Residents are looking forward to this business coming to town and the high quality jobs it creates,” Sherwood said, adding that previous concerns from residents about the park and other issues have been addressed. “Right now the feedback we are getting is that they are chomping at the bit. They want to see construction sooner rather than later and we agree with them.”

To purchase goods at Costco, a membership is needed; they start at $55 per year. The company says it has more than 50 million members. Other locations in Connecticut include Waterbury, Milford, Enfield, and Brookfield. The company started in an airplane hangar in California in 1976.