Representatives of Costco Wholesale Club are "cautiously optimistic" they would open the proposed 151,000 square-foot retailer on Route 202 in Yorktown in late fall of 2013.
The big box store, which will be build at an 18.75-acre site that currently houses an abandoned motel, a former gas station, nursery and two homes, is expected to alleviate some of the traffic congestion on Route 202 as well as create 350 construction and 200 permanent jobs, according to Costco representatives.
"It is the jewel and probably the crown of Yorktown in terms of a commercial site," said Al Capellini, the applicant's attorney and former Yorktown supervisor. "The use that goes there has to be something different, has to be out of the ordinary and why does Yorktown have to settle for something ordinary?"
Although Costco representatives said there has been some misinformation about the retailer and fears among residents about a potential big box store coming to town have been spread, they have made limited comments to the public in order to proceed with the project with "integrity," Capellini said.
During a briefing with Yorktown Chamber of Commerce members on Friday, he said he expects a public hearing to be held in September. The town's planning board would have the final approval of the site.
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Nick Panayotou, Costco's project planner and engineer, said many of Costco's customers travel to its other locations in Yonkers, Port Chester or Brookfield, CT, to shop. If the the project gets approved, their trip would be shortened.
Residents have about increased traffic on Route 202, but Panayotou said Costco along with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) would not only facilitate traffic flow to the project, but take care of the increased traffic and make "substantial improvements."
"You don’t have to be a Yorktown resident to drive along the Route 202 corridor and know there is a tremendous amount of congestion during peak hours," Panayotou said.
Working in conjunction with DOT's $5 million road improvements at Pine Grove Court and Route 202, Costco would be spending more than $2 million for traffic signals, additional lanes and a sidewalk.
"In order for this location to be successful, traffic has to move," said Phillip Grealy, a traffic engineer with John Collins engineering and also a Yorktown resident. "We don't want to be in a location where [people] can't get in or out. We are not going to solve every problem Yorktown has because it's been left for so long. But we are taking care of a major bottleneck."
If Costco is developed in Yorktown, officials said it would generate $600,000 in school taxes, $88,000 in town taxes and $9 million in county and state sales tax revenue. Costco also contributes back 1 percent of pre-tax dollars to the community in which each store is located – which is for Yorktown.
The project would include a gas station for Costco members only.
In addition, the developer has and pay for the installation of lines and the connections to the homeowners on Old Crompond Road.
"The people that are opposed to this are not only opposed to Costco, they're opposed to everything," Chamber of Commerce President Joseph Visconti said. "To me, I look at this like it's Yorktown's Tappan Zee Bridge. It’s a tremendous project, it’s expensive, the benefit for years to come will be enormous. It’s the gateway to the Route 202 development project."
Opponents to the project have sited increased traffic, extra police force needed, time lost in traffic and competition with small business owners as some of the negative impacts they believe Costco would have on the community.
Vince Ferrandino, a planning consultant for the project whose firm has represented both small and large businesses, said they've made inventories of the businesses in Yorktown's hamlets to compare the goods of those businesses to those of Costco's.
"There will be some competition," said Ferrandino, who grew up in Yorktown and used to work as a landscaper at the old motel when he was a youngster. "Competition is good."
He said in all of the communities where there is a Costco, shops have grown because Costco brings people to shop in the area.
"Costco has a very unique product," Panayotou said. "They’re not here to put anybody out of business. They serve the local community because they are a wholesaler. And they formulate their strategy based upon quality and what they think the public wants."
The applicant is in the process of revisiting a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project based on comments from town staff.