published Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Costco identified in secret Catoosa project


by Andy Johns
  • photo
    Staff photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press A 60-acre site along Interstate 75 at Exit 353 in RInggold is expected to become the site of a Costco. Costco Wholesale is in talks to build a store on the 60-acre site at Interstate 75 and Cloud Springs Road in Catoosa County.

Costco Wholesale is the company looking at "Project Hilltop" property at Interstate 75 and would move into Catoosa County if the final formalities are ironed out.

Catoosa County Water Board Chairman Jerry Lee confirmed Wednesday that his board had discussed Costco coming to Catoosa County in an open meeting. He would not comment further.

"Everybody seems to know about it, but I can't say anything," Mr. Lee said.

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb said he could not confirm the report, but he said the water board had worked with the potential tenant.

Mr. Cobb said the project's final legal "housekeeping" was being worked out and he hoped to have a signed contract and an announcement next week.

"We'll get it done, I'm just not sure in whose time frame," he said.

Jeff Brotman, Costco chairman and co-founder, declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

"Our corporate policy is to not comment on specific markets," he said in a statement.

Under the plan, Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco will build a store on a 60-acre site at Interstate 75 and Cloud Springs Road with hopes of opening by August.

County officials have said Catoosa will borrow about $4 million to buy the land for the site, expecting to pay it off in two to five years with the sales-tax income generated by the warehouse club.

COSTCO AT A GLANCE

Annual revenue: $71.4 billion (fiscal year 2009)

Number of locations: 566 (as of Nov. 24)

Membership: 56 million cardholders (as of Aug. 30)

Number of U.S. employees: 104,900

Headquarters: Issaquah, Wash.

Source: Costco Web site

Costco, the nation's No. 3 retailer in terms of revenue, behind No. 1 Walmart and No. 2 Kroger, according to Stores.org, has 566 branches including sites in Nashville, Atlanta and Huntsville, Ala. It has been rumored for years to be eyeing the Chattanooga market.

The company's Web site says the stores sell groceries, appliances, televisions, tires, toys, sporting goods, jewelry, housewares, office equipment, health and beauty items and furniture. Many of the stores also offer gasoline, according to the site.

The company's Web site says its stores are designed to help small to medium-sized businesses affordably purchase items for resale and business use, but they also allow individual members to shop. Businesses and individuals must join the club first and pay $50 annual dues before shopping.

Catoosa officials have said the retailer expects to create 125 jobs in its first year and expand to 200 jobs in the second year. About half of the jobs will be full time, according to local officials.

Without specifying the name, Mr. Cobb has said the new company was very "work friendly" with above-average salaries for its positions.

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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