published Friday, April 9th, 2010

Costco expected to attract others

by Andy Johns
Audio clip

Ronnie Cobb

The developer who owned the land where crews are now working to build a Costco Wholesale club said he has talked with hotels, chain restaurants and other retail businesses about coming to Catoosa County.

Despite the slumping economy, Larry Armour said he expects to have most of the land around the warehouse club developed in three to five years.

"If this would have been three years ago, we probably would have had all of that property committed," Mr. Armour said in a phone interview earlier this week.

He declined to name specific companies that might be interested in building on the site.

In February, Mr. Armour and partner Jerry Fowler sold Catoosa County 16 acres of property in a sail-shaped lot between Interstate 75, Scruggs Road and Cloud Springs Road in Fort Oglethorpe for $4.8 million.

Catoosa County took out a $4.5 million loan to grade and prepare its new land, which will be sold to Costco for $4.8 million in August.

Based on county figures, that leaves 45 to 50 acres for other development on the site, but Mr. Armour said the remaining space is about 31 acres.

He said the biggest benefit of the property is the proximity to Interstate 75, which he said would draw frequent shoppers not only from Dalton and Ringgold but from Lookout and Signal mountains.

"There's not a lot of retail on the interstate in North Georgia," he said. "The access is unbelievable."

Mr. Armour said he and Mr. Fowler are focused on "quality development" and were only looking at national and regional companies to build the hotel or restaurant or retail shops.

County and city leaders say they are happy to have new development, which is expected to boost sales tax and reduce the property tax burden on residents.

"Hopefully, there will be some good opportunities in there," said County Commission Chairman Keith Greene.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Construction continues at the site of the future Costco off of Cloud Springs Road in Fort Oglethorpe.

Mr. Greene said he doesn't see the county doing the site preparation work for any other businesses as it did with Costco. The Costco funding is meant to be a seed to get other projects moving, he explained.

Mr. Armour said courting new businesses in a recession is tough work and the county was lucky to get Costco.

"We're fortunate to get one of the few retailers that's actually doing business," he added.

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb said crews lopped off a mound of earth Thursday, exposing more of the site to traffic on I-75 and Cloud Springs Road. Crews were preparing to move power lines and clear more land, he said.

"Everything is meshing together," he said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Costco pact a surprise for some Ringgold council members

Article: Ringgold backtracks on Costco funding

Article: Costco drawn to area by demographics

Article: Costco, Cobb want to hurry up project

Article: Ringgold opts out of Costco project funding

Article: 'Hilltop' revealed: Costco

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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Wilder said...

Down in Dalton, where there are millions of square feet of empty industrial buildings, the politicians decided to purhase and use Whitfield County's rare interstate frontage for an industrial park. This followed the purhcase of the side of a steep mountain to build softball fields(which they abandoned after a costly and futile attempt to level it). Rumor has it that they are looking for some swamp land to build a snow ski resort.

April 9, 2010 at 9:10 a.m.
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