The building’s built, the roundabout’s ready and the new Costco warehouse store north of Spokane will open Friday at 8 a.m.
The two-lane roundabout constructed at the store’s entry will open on Thursday, a day before the store’s opening and less than a mile from ramps of the north-south freeway.
The store at 12020 N. Newport Highway is substantially bigger than the one it replaces on North Division Street, which will close at 5 p.m. Thursday. The company has hired an additional 50 people to staff the wholesale giant’s latest addition to the Inland Northwest.
The 167,000-square-foot store will take the place of the 134,000-square-foot warehouse at 7619 N. Division, which opened in October 1992 and was remodeled in 2007. Costco opened its first store in Spokane on Third Avenue in 1983, but closed that location about 18 years ago when it opened its Spokane Valley store. The Third Avenue location is now used to grow and produce cannabis.
When its Division store opened, it was located in the county. Around the time of its remodel, the store became mired in political controversy between the city and county. The city eventually annexed the store location and other properties along Division in 2008 as part of an agreement to end a lawsuit filed by Spokane County. As part of the annexation, the city and county agreed to share portions of the sales tax revenue from the store.
That agreement ends with the new store being firmly located outside of the city limits.
Initial plans filed with the city by California-based Rich Development Enterprises show the Division location being split into different uses, including for retail, a fitness center and storage units. Architectural illustrations have logos of Planet Fitness and a Sky Zone indoor trampoline park, but it’s unclear if these are the real tenants or for illustrative purposes only. The 650 parking spaces will remain.
According to a report in the Spokane Journal of Business, the California development company purchased the Division store earlier this year with plans to invest $15 million in the property and turn the store into a retail building. County property records have yet to reflect any sale.
A development agreement signed in 2010 by Kaiser Aluminum, owners of the land where the new store was built, called for construction of a traffic signal or roundabout to enter what is planned as a 424-acre development north of the old Mead smelter.
The Washington State Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction of U.S. Highway 2 running in front of the new Costco, urged the construction of a roundabout as a safer than a signal because they’re designed to improve safety by reducing the risk and severity of vehicle collisions.
Costco agreed to the roundabout, with a portion of the costs being covered by bonds issued by Spokane County.
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, roundabouts reduce the number of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by about 80 percent when compared to conventional signalized intersections. Studies done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal Highway Administration show that roundabouts reduced fatal collisions by 90 percent. Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found a 38 percent drop in car deaths and injuries at Wisconsin intersections converted to roundabouts.
Two-lane roundabouts should be used like two-lane, four-way intersections. If a motorist is turning right, stay in the right lane. To turn left, stay in the left lane. Drivers heading straight can use either lane. Remember to yield to traffic already in the traffic circle, and always yield to pedestrians.
Just southwest of the new store, a toxic plume containing cyanide and fluoride remains in the groundwater, the leavings of decades of smelter work on the old industrial site. The cleanup process began in 1988, and in 2001 workers capped 128,000 tons of buried waste material from the smelter with asphalt.
Like the surrounding homes and businesses, the new Costco is hooked up to municipal water and sewer systems, avoiding the contaminated plume.
Lydig Construction, which has branches in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Bellevue, built the roundabout, warehouse and gas station.
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