Should Guilford, CT Change Zoning for Costco?

May 19th, 2010 · 6 Comments

There is a big debate going right now in Guilford, Connecticut about whether or not they should do some zoning changes to allow for a Costco to be built in the area.  The name of the site is ‘the rock pile’, at 1919 Boston Post Road, which doesn’t sound like a particularly attractive area that anyone would want to build on actually.  And from reading the comments, it seems that the proposed location is also very near to the dump.  I don’t see either of those as being particularly desirable attributes and would think that someone actually wanting to build there, someone that would provide tax dollars and jobs, would be far better than letting the area be all nasty and unattractive.  But then, I love Costco and see the benefits of it.

Apparently, last year a development company, Developers Diversified Realty, had gotten approval to build a 25-store retial shopping center on the location, but the recession prompted all tenants to pull out, and construction was halted last year.  But now, Costco is interested in taking over the proposed site to build a warehouse and a gas station.  On Monday, Costco representatives and employees of Developers Diversified Realty, which is developing the site, made an informal presentation to the Planning and Zoning Committee of Guilford about the plans for the new Costco location.  The news story had a quick video clip showing the design of the facade for the proposed Costco, which looks much different than any other Costco so that they can be in keeping with the existing look of the town.

The Planning and Zoning Committee suggested that Costco hold public information meetings to inform area citizens about the proposed development plan.  Apparently, the zoning would need to be changed so that the site could accommodate such a large single-tenant building.  There are plenty of committee members and town citizens that are not on board with the change in zoning, because they fear it will lead to more big-box retail stores moving in to the area.

Joseph Montesano, principal and regional director of Northwest Atlantic Real Estate Services, which handles Costco’s development work in North America, said in Monday’s presentation that Costco was named sustainable grocer of the year in 2009 and won’t have a bigger footprint than the retail center would have. The store would generate less traffic, wastewater and stormwater than the center, he said.  A Costco would also stay within the boundaries defined for the previous project, create around 220 jobs, and generate about $500,000 in property taxes, according to Montesano.

For more information, and to watch the video clip:

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6 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 John Henningson // 2010.08.24 at 10:57 am

    Several supporters have discussed developing a “pro” group of Guilford citizens to foster more open support for the application. We need to get email addresses ASAP to mobilize our counter insurgency effort. If your interested please email me.

    John H

  2. 2 Kimberly // 2010.05.25 at 2:08 am

    Brent, thanks so much for adding the perspective of someone that actually lives in Guilford. I certainly agree with you that Costco is fairly conservative about where they position their stores and I don’t think they enter into a new area without thoroughly understanding the demographics and viability. It also sounds like there are plenty of big stores right in the same area, so it does seem like it isn’t quite as bad as some people are acting like. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for all the Costco fans in Guilford. :-)

  3. 3 Brent // 2010.05.23 at 10:14 pm

    I forgot to mention a few things about Guilford…

    We’re 20 minutes north if New Haven (I-95/I-91 merge, Exit 48). There’s a large IKEA right off I-95 in the Exit 47area. To the north we have 2 very successful outlets, Exit 63 – Clinton Crossing and Exit 65 Tanger Westbrook. Within the past two years a new Home Depot went in off I-95 at Exit 51 and a Car-Max as their neighbor. The proposed site for this Costco is Exit 57, one exit north of a large truck stop in Branford and a large Stop n’ Shop (large regional grocery chain). The area can certainly support Costco without much of a legitimate concern of it going belly-up. I view Costco is a fairly conservative chain that doesn’t make moves like this unless the due diligence has been done and there is a high level of confidence of success… They are willing to change the facade of their store to conform with local desire to maintain a quaint New England town appearance…

  4. 4 Brent // 2010.05.23 at 10:04 pm

    I live in Guilford and although I appreciate the concerns the reality of it is, we have a WalMart and a Big-Y (large supermarket change), both have large (not sure of the specific square footage of each) footprints so I’m not sure how much of a change would be required. At present we travel about 25 minutes to get to the nearest Costco in Milford. There was talk years ago of building a Costco in Branford (one town south on I-95) in the Thimble Island area but those apparently went nowhere. The Milford Costco is always busy… It’s got all services that I believe are offered: Pharmacy, Photo, Eye, Gas Station and Tires.

    The location is what has been described in the write-up. It’s about 1/4 mile from the off-ramp for 95 south and 1/3 mile from the off-ramp for 95 north. The center of town is 3+ miles in the opposite direction so local traffic wouldn’t appear to be dramatically impacted. We have a beautiful downtown with a nice but quaint business district that Costco offers no realistic threat to (considering these businesses continue to exist in the presence of a WalMart).

    I can’t think of another single tract of land in the area that would facilitate another “big box” vendor within Guilford proper, maybe North Guilford or Branford… one has been considered and rejected and the other just isn’t convenient to get to… We have a small industrial area that doesn’t have much going on… I’ve heard of attempts to rezone this residential (by current land owners) in an effort to make better use of the land and those have been shot down… I think the addition of a Costco would be outstanding for our local community!

  5. 5 Clue // 2010.05.19 at 12:58 pm

    While we all know how great Costco is, let’s face it, many other big box stores are not so hot, nor or they as community-conscious, and when they decide to move on or go belly up, communities are left with behemoth eyesores in their wake. Those boxes have very limited uses and they may sit empty for many years, as a downward tipping point for a neighborhood or an entire area.

    So I believe that Guilford has every reason to be concerned about a zoning change which could allow other big boxes in too. They’re asking all the right questions and raising all of the concerns which many, many other communities are now wishing they’d thought of before they chased the almighty development dollar. Whatever decision Guilford come to, I say HURRAY! for them for being proactive and thinking this through on the front end, instead of being blind-sided and reactive on the back end.

  6. 6 Tweets that mention Should Guilford, CT Change Zoning for Costco? | Addicted To Costco! -- Topsy.com // 2010.05.19 at 7:21 am

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