Costco opening official

Economic incentives package helped deal

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The MGHerring Group and city of Augusta announced Thursday that Costco is opening a store at the Village at Riverwatch.

Augusta commissioners voted to spend about $1 million in sales-tax money to build an entrance and road into the property. They also committed to give Costco a majority of sales tax dollars generated by the wholesale store's sales to help pay back a $10 million loan the developers will obtain to finance site preparation costs. The loan will be paid off in a 23- to 25-year period.

"We are going to invest future dollars in a current product," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

Costco, which, like Sam's Club, sells items in bulk, specializes in helping small businesses grow, Russell said in a presentation to commissioners before the vote.

Noting that Thursday's announcement was the "best worst-kept secret" the past few days, Russell said that was because it was good for Augusta.

"And even bigger than that is the development at Riverwatch that's been on the table for awhile," he said. "A hundred acres at an intersection there at one of the biggest new roads in our community that's ripe for development."

The Costco project will create an opportunity to develop 100 acres in one of the best locations between Columbia and Atlanta, and between Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., Russell said.

"That's what the big picture is we're talking about," he said. "To do that, we had to find a store that was suitable to our economy, suitable to the things we need to get done in Augusta and a store with national presence. That was important to us. And with Costco, I think we found that kind of store."

Russell said the first question people ask is, "What about Sam's?"

"Sam's has a little bit different market, I believe, and we've talked at length about that -- the draw that Sam's has versus the draw that Costco has," he said. "Costco has a store in Atlanta. There's nothing even close beyond that."

The city expects to draw "lots of dollars out of South Carolina," the South and the East, he said.

To get Costco to Augusta required much effort on the city's part, mainly working out the public-private partnership during the past few months, Russell said.

Some companies who have expressed an interest in coming to Augusta have come with their hands out, he said.

"We've had conversations with several other people," he said. They wanted us to do everything. and they not do anything. They wanted us to put money up front, and they benefit from that. That's not a conversation I like to have with people."

The project will be developed in two phases. Phase 1 will have five retail out parcels developed by Costco, which will receive 75 percent of sales tax revenue. Phase 2 will be two large parcels beside Costco. The city will get 100 percent of sales tax generated from those businesses.

"We think this is a very good deal for Augusta," Russell said. "It is an opportunity to bring in a major retailer and a major provider of jobs."

Costco will bring 150 to 200 jobs to Augusta and an expected $135 million a year in sales.

"This is not a $10 million project. This is a $100 million project," Russell said.

Commissioner Don Grantham, who worked on the deal, said it was important to note that the city will not issue bonds.

"We're not obligating the city's good faith and credit on this project," Russell said. "We're looking at the tax dollars created by this project to pay for it. It's based on their success. If they're not successful, they suffer. We don't."

Once the financing package is approved, site preparation will begin immediately, with the hope that the store will open by November 2011, a news release from Mayor Deke Copenhaver's office says.

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corgimom
27262
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corgimom 10/28/10 - 12:05 pm
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Remember in the old days when

Remember in the old days when businesses paid their own costs?

But Marion Williams and Countyman will be happy to hear this.

How much was the budget deficit for next year? $9.4 million? Guess what, it'll be more than that.

Dixieman
12732
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Dixieman 10/28/10 - 12:07 pm
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Enh. I would rather have

Enh. I would rather have seen an upscale mall with movies, bistros, sidewalk cafes, luxury goods stores, Bass Pro, etc. but it seem this is not to be. I just wonder who the other tenants will be now that Costco is in.

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 12:21 pm
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Dixieman... The movies,

Dixieman... The movies, luxury good stores, and cafes are probably still a go.. The luxury goods won't be the stores you see at Lenox or Phipps Plaza in Atlanta. But Augusta can support some of the stores at Perimeter or North Point. Costco is a big box store, but the Village at Riverwatch is a lifestyle center. A lifestyle center is similar to Augusta's mall promenade.

The Village at Riverwatch is miles away from the Augusta Mall, Carmax area, Augusta Exchange, and Surrey Center. Alot of the retailers will be new to the Augusta area.

Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Chipotle, REI, Lucky Brand, Chessecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Le Chateau, Bare Escentuals, Juicy Couture, Brooks Brothers, Brookstone, J. Crew, L'Occitane, Pottery Barn, etc aren't located in the market yet.

storiesihaveread
332
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storiesihaveread 10/28/10 - 12:21 pm
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One building big piece of

One building big piece of land. Alrighty then!!

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 12:38 pm
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Corgimom... The majority

Corgimom... The majority people who live in Augusta are happy and you live in Charlotte.

Millions of dollars are being invested and 150 to 200 good paying jobs..

Costco can open a store anywhere in america and wanted to build right here in Augusta.

The retail in Augusta continues to surpass Savannah, Columbia, Macon, and Columbus. The city is closing in on Greenville and trying to catch up with Charleston in the future.

Rolling Eyes
245
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Rolling Eyes 10/28/10 - 12:33 pm
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Is it too early to put in a

Is it too early to put in a job application?

BlizGirl
0
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BlizGirl 10/28/10 - 01:02 pm
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I am excited that this is

I am excited that this is coming to our area. Right now its competitor's location in Augusta is not ideal. You can go elsewhere if you want bistros and upscale stores. Hopefully The Village will have shops that will cater to the majority of the Augusta area and not be an overpriced ritzy area. We need stores that are compliant with today's economy and the average income. I would like to see nice stores, but affordable nice stores. Are we still expecting Bass Pro Shop as well? I think that will be a great store for the area as well, considering all the nearby lakes.

floridasun
279
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floridasun 10/28/10 - 12:52 pm
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I have nothing against

I have nothing against Costco, but this is not the type of development I think is appropriate for a gateway to Augusta. I agree with Dixieman...the village with restaurants, boutiques, better department stores as originally proposed would have been something unique, but we will be getting a huge big box with a sea of asphalt surrounding it. Costco is simply going to drain revenue from existing retailers, so I expect to see more retail vacancies in west Augusta , Martinez and Evans as a result of Costco's arrival.
And Countyman, the larger stores you mention Trader Joes, Whole Foods are not coming to Augusta...their customer base is simply not here and the smaller speciality stores your mention J Crew,Brooks Bros, Pottery Barn etc would already be here at Augusta Mall if they had a desire to be in the market.( and these type of speciality stores do not co exist in the same center as a Costco) General Growth , the owner of Augusta Mall is a much larger company than MC Herring and they will use their leverage to protect Augusta Mall.
I would expect Costco's retail neighbors to be nothing special
Too bad for Augusta we did not get the village originally proposed

Chillen
17
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Chillen 10/28/10 - 01:01 pm
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Where is this, over by

Where is this, over by Comcast where the Bass Pro Shop was supposed to go?

Big_vike
1
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Big_vike 10/28/10 - 01:02 pm
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0
Typical, never happy with

Typical, never happy with anything.

fdn315
2
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fdn315 10/28/10 - 01:08 pm
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Might as well expand

Might as well expand riverwatch pkwy to six lanes from the Augusta Canal down... and do something about that darn train

BlizGirl
0
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BlizGirl 10/28/10 - 01:09 pm
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Yes, I agree Vike. People

Yes, I agree Vike. People should just be grateful that businesses are even considering opening in this area with this economy. Too many people want ritz and luxury in an almost Depression that the nation is going through.

grinder48
1743
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grinder48 10/28/10 - 01:13 pm
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Great news. More business
Unpublished

Great news. More business will follow, for certain.

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 01:23 pm
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What's the diffrence between

What's the diffrence between Bass Pro or Costco? Both of them are big box stores. Athens recently got a Trader Joes to locate there... Why couldn't Augusta can't get a Trader Joes?

Nobody on this forum knows what the MGHerring current plans are. Who's to say speciality shops, restaurants, etc won't be apart of the development?

There is a Sephora, Apple, Pandora, and Williams Sonoma at Augusta mall. The Augusta area can definitely support a J Crew, Brooks Bros, or Pottery Barn.

The Augusta mall was at 95% capacity in June of 2010. The owner of Augusta mall(General Growth)national occupancy rate is 92%. The Augusta mall is doing 3% better than the majority of malls General Growth owns. Since June of 2010 a Pandora, Handpicked, Forever 21, Downtown Locker Room, Toys R Us Express, and CCS have opened at the mall. Great Wraps is opening next month in the food court.. Moe's Southwest Grill is opening in the promenade next to Portrait Innovations.

There isn't hardly any space left at the Augusta mall. Village at Riverwatch is a few miles away from the Augusta mall, Augusta Exchange, Surrey Center, and the Carmax area. New retailers similar to Costco are going to locate there.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/28/10 - 01:18 pm
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I've never been in a costco.

I've never been in a costco. What is it compared to?

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 01:37 pm
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Taylor B.... Costco is

Taylor B.... Costco is comparable to BJ's or Sam's Club.
http://www.costco.com/

Several new restaurants, hotels, and other businesses are going to follow behind Costco to VAR.

BlizGirl
0
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BlizGirl 10/28/10 - 01:31 pm
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Taylor B it's similar to Sams

Taylor B it's similar to Sams Club

KNECKBONE
26
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KNECKBONE 10/28/10 - 01:40 pm
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we don't need no expensive

we don't need no expensive shops.if you're rich you can already shop any where.real people with regular jobs and kids need more wal marts-targets etc. we need a guitar center like atlanta has

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/28/10 - 01:46 pm
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While I am definitely glad to

While I am definitely glad to see Costco coming to Augusta, it is indeed a big change from what was originally proposed for that site. I do have some issues with a BIg box store with an asphalt sea surrounding it and its impact on the nearby canal heritage corridor. It just seems that if the city is going to offer all of these incentives, then why not try and have them look at building at a different site.. maybe say the Augusta West site.. or even at I520 and Gordon Hwy, or off Wheeler Rd. It seems like the ciity had some negotiating power and really didn't use it. How about off Wheeler near I20 (within RC?).

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 10/28/10 - 01:50 pm
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County, the Athens market is

County, the Athens market is completely different from that of Augusta. Trader Joes fits well into the Athens market because of its large student population. Trader Joes' format really caters to young singles. It's sort of the anti-thesis of a Costco. Augusta is more of a Sams Club and Costco kind of town.

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 02:35 pm
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Both Trader Joes and Whole

Both Trader Joes and Whole Foods will locate here in the future. Trader Joes is opening a store in the city of Greenville.

The wheeler road location is the only plausible location. The Augusta West Plaza shopping center is too small. When DOT decides to widen I-520 between Gordon Hwy/Deans Bridge road and add new exits/interchanges in 2011-2012. Then we will start to see large national retailers opening in South Augusta. Target, Ruby Tuesday, and Chick Fil A are intrested in coming to the South Augusta area. The I-520/peach orchard rd exit is the perfect location.

The orginal anchors at VAR were Belk, Bass Pro, Costco, and Starplex Cinema..

Lawpig
0
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Lawpig 10/28/10 - 02:22 pm
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Every Costco I've ever seen

Every Costco I've ever seen looks like a nicer version of Sam's Club--big box store with massive parking. If they were going the upscale route, like the Mt. Pleasant Town Centre, then . . . well they failed.

Maybe they're going to go the route of Friendly Center in Greensboro, NC--it's an open-air lifestyle center that mixes highbrow and midbrow shops together--it even has a Harris Teeter. Also, this town needs to bring back Harris Teeter. The staff is always friendly and they have three dollar six inch subs. Now that's a tax incentive I would support.

I will say that the amount of retail that has landed in Augusta over the past few years is pretty impressive--there are many American cities twice our size that still lack an Apple store.

Whole Foods could probably be successful here if it wasn't for Fresh Market and Earth Fare. I just don't think the area can support three upscale grocery stores (but it could easily support a new Harris Teeter; in fact, I have the perfect location: Daniel Village. Sorry Bilo).

This town could easily support a J Crew. The kids from Lakeside and Greenbriar would be lined up out the door.

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 02:37 pm
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The VAR is huge (150 acres)

The VAR is huge (150 acres) and is suppose to be a mixture of upscale lifestyle center and power center.

bootscoot_mommy
0
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bootscoot_mommy 10/28/10 - 02:32 pm
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corgimom is so annoying.

corgimom is so annoying. It's amazing how some people can make bad out of a good/great situation.

Yoneque
0
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Yoneque 10/28/10 - 02:33 pm
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I would love to see a Trader

I would love to see a Trader Joe's in Augusta.

ruudvonbaron
0
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ruudvonbaron 10/28/10 - 03:09 pm
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Great.....another big box

Great.....another big box strip mall that offers nothing different that will only create more vacated big box strip malls already in Augusta.

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 05:05 pm
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I think the ground breaking

I think the ground breaking is slated for the beginning of next year. The store should be opening in November of 2011. 150 new jobs are coming to the area.

AugustaVoter
2
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AugustaVoter 10/28/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
Empty promises. I will

Empty promises. I will believe it once it is actually built and open. Just like Bass Pro Shops. We heard about that being built and opened by fall 2009.

AugustaVoter
2
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AugustaVoter 10/28/10 - 04:29 pm
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0
At least this will give us

At least this will give us another option besides Sam's, if and when it is built. I shopped Costco in Texas all the time and it is a good store. Hopefully we will also get the gas station with it.

countyman
18979
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countyman 10/28/10 - 04:34 pm
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Costco announced they're

Costco announced they're coming to Augusta on October 28, 2010.. The announcement was made almost three years after the recession hit in December of 2007.

The comparison to the Bass Pro announcement is apples to oranges...

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