Plans to bring a Costco store to Duluth will head to the city's Planning Commission Tuesday, and documents shared with commissioners this week provide more details about the proposed project. TJ Design Strategies, an Illinois-based developer that has worked with Costco to build other Midwestern stores, submitted plans to construct a 161,226-square-foot retail warehouse for Costco at the corner of West Arrowhead Road and Haines Road.
But New Life Lutheran Church will be displaced if the project moves forward, as proposed.
New Life moved into its current home in December of 2016 after buying the brick building for just over $300,000 from Northern City Baptist, a church faced with a dwindling congregation. Prior to the purchase, New Life had been holding services at GPM Inc. in Duluth's Airpark development, but the congregation had outgrown the space. As of December 2016, The Rev. David Norland told the News Tribune that New Life's services were drawing an average of about 85 congregants.
Mary Robinson, New Life's congregation president, said: "We're moving forward very conservatively. So right now, we have no plans, at least no solid plans, just maybe thoughts, and we won't move forward with any plans until the purchase agreement is actually complete."
"But obviously, should things continue to progress and the sale goes through, we will certainly need to relocate," she said.
Plans submitted to the city call for a massive retail layout, complete with a tire center, liquor store and a fueling operation spread out over 20.9 acres. Much of the property would be covered by a 747-stall parking lot.
The developer proposes to install two underground stormwater infiltration/detention systems under the parking lot to capture runoff and sediments. The structures are designed to hold water back and provide it time to cool, minimizing the risk of temperature spikes that could threaten the health of neighboring Miller Creek, a designated trout stream. The east and west sides of the project site drain into tributary streams that flow into Miller Creek.
A city planning review noted that out of 56 acres of available land, the developer opted to configure the store to the west, avoiding some of the most sensitive lands. But the project would nevertheless disrupt just over 3 acres of wetland. Before the project is allowed to move forward, a wetland mitigation plan would need to be developed that meets the approval of the Minnesota Army Corps of Engineers and complies with the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act.
The proposed store is expected to stand 28 to 32 feet tall, with a parapet constructed to visually screen views of the mechanical equipment to be mounted on the roof.
The parking lot would be illuminated at night by lighting placed atop 36.5-foot-tall poles and installed with an eye toward minimizing any stray light pollution.
In anticipation of increased traffic levels, the plan calls for a stoplight to be installed at Costco's easternmost access to Arrowhead Road. Access to Haines Road would be via an intersection with a stop sign for outbound vehicles, as well as northbound and southbound turn lanes.
If the commission approves the planning review for the new Costco as city staff recommends, work on the project would be expected to commence within one year, although the developer could request up to a yearlong extension, to be granted at the discretion of the city's land-use supervisor.