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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Costco calling? Large mystery retailer looking at Liberty Lake for new location

A line of shoppers waits to enter the Costco store in Spokane Valley in March 2020. Developers have asked for a traffic study in Liberty Lake that could be the store’s next area location.  (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
By Tod Stephens and Thomas Clouse The Spokesman-Review

Developers have begun preliminary traffic studies in Liberty Lake for a large retail box store, and adjoining gas station, that very much fits the size and look of a potential new Costco Wholesale location.

Paperwork submitted on May 17 to Liberty Lake city planners is for property owned by Centennial Properties and proposes a large retail building on land north of East Country Vista Drive and west of North Kramer Parkway.

Steve Daines, designated broker for Daines Capital, is marketing a 6-acre property just a few parcels away and said he understands that Costco is behind the effort, which at this point remains in early planning stages.

“For more than a month, employees in the Coeur d’Alene Costco have been telling my employees, ‘I heard Costco is coming to Liberty Lake,’ ” Daines said. “In my opinion, this one is looking good.”

Daines said he was aware that Costco was eyeing property in Greyhound Park and Event Center in Post Falls, but it wasn’t working out.

“If they can’t go to Post Falls, this makes all the sense in the world as the next best spot,” Daines said.

Lisa Key, the director of planning, engineering and building services for Liberty Lake, said information about the proposed retail box store and gas station were inadvertently listed on the city website.

Information on pre-development meetings generally is only available to someone who files a records request, she said.

Key said she wasn’t aware the information was on the website until she received calls from the Spokane Journal of Business, which first reported about the potential Costco site on Thursday.

“Developers need to be able to kick the tires in confidentiality,” Key said.

Daines noted that Costco, and especially Amazon, tends to use other company names on permit requests for a whole host of reasons.

“Sometimes they need more land. A neighboring person may raise their prices” if they know who is asking about a parcel, he said. “Some people may say this would raise traffic in the area and begin to fight it.”

Keeping names off permit requests is “just to protect themselves,” Daines said.

Efforts to reach Costco officials on Thursday were unsuccessful. Doug Yost, vice president for development and acquisition for Cowles Real Estate Company, which owns Centennial Properties, declined a request to talk about the plans. Cowles Real Estate is a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which owns and prints The Spokesman-Review.

As for the application, it’s for several acres of land located east of Ridgeline High School and a few blocks west of Home Depot, at 21701 E Country Vista Dr.

Key, the city official, noted that the pre-development meeting only sought a traffic impact analysis for a large retail store in that location and nothing in the paperwork submitted to the city identified the store as Costco, which also has a location at 12020 N. Newport Highway, among several others in the region.

That store, which opened in 2018, is nearly the same size, about 167,000 square feet and has 24 refueling stations, that were floated in the request for Liberty Lake.

Key noted that the traffic study would just be part of a decision process that begins only after a developer submits a building-permit request, which has not yet been done.

But Daines, the broker, said he believes Costco would be well-served building a store at that location.

Daines said he recently had a traffic study completed for the property, near the proposed Costco site, that he is marketing.

It showed that East Country Vista Drive has about 5,000 cars a day using it. Daines said it was his understanding that most retailers seek to have about 11,000 trips per day before they would consider a site.

But Costco is a different animal, he said.

“The Spokane Valley store (5601 E. Sprague Ave.) is so busy, and they don’t have enough parking,” Daines said.

He noted that Costco, in the last two years, bought a building in Coeur d’Alene that previously had housed Black Sheep Sporting Goods just so it could add 335 new parking stalls to its store at 355 E. Neider Ave.

“And they are still packed,” Daines said of the Coeur d’Alene expansion.

As for the proposed site in Liberty Lake, “I think this site is pretty great for them,” he said.