In an apparent effort to maintain its competitiveness along the southern corridor of Federal Road, is seeking to “renovate and expand” its current wholesale location by 15,186 square feet by demolishing the nearby bank and having it relocated to a neighboring building.
In its application, dated June 2, to the Zoning Commission, Costco wrote that “certain aspects of the site design and building have become outdated” since it began operations at 200 Federal Road about 20 years ago.
The company stated that under its proposal the existing building would expand to 141,685 square feet and add a gas fueling station.
Economic Development Commission (EDC) Chairman Hal Kurfehs said Costco’s current Brookfield center is smaller than many of its other locations, even though it ranks high in New England in sales among wholesale outlets.
This last April, the Zoning Commission to build a 124,560-square-foot commercial center in the north section of the Kohl’s shopping plaza, near Costco. That 28.8-acre parcel, which includes the former Fine Arts Theater, has been vacant for years. The zoners also approved an adjoining 3,200-square foot restaurant.
BJ’s Wholesale Club officials have said they hope to start construction next spring and be open for business by the spring 2013.
“Costco knows that BJ’s will be the first location that people will see coming off the highway, so Costco knew it had to do something dramatic to build volume at the location,” Kurfehs said of the traffic that would be coming from Super 7 near the intersection of Candlewood Lake and Federal roads.
“I think that they both will be able to exist, in fact in a lot of towns, there is a Costco and a BJ’s right near each other,” First Selectman Bill Davidson said.
The Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Costco’s application July 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the town hall.
“This is the Zoning Commission’s decision, but I am very supportive of what Costco wants to do,” Davidson said. “I’ve seen the plans and they are going to make major improvements that will be of benefit.”
Staying at 200 Federal Road
Costco had sought to build a larger wholesale center on the 37-acre cornfield, but withdrew its application to the Zoning Commission in February 2009, just months after it had been submitted.
Company officials indicated at that time that they didn’t believe the commission would approve the project.
Several residents objected to the application at the public hearings, which were held in the Brookfield High School (BHS) auditorium, saying that the increased traffic would make nearby country roads unsafe and disrupt activities at the churches and nursery schools on Junction Road.
Kurfehs, a local commercial Realtor, said this week that after Costco withdrew its application to the Zoning Commission he showed the company a site in Danbury that they considered for “six to nine months.”
He said they opted not to pursue that option.
“It is hard to find locations in this area and they wanted to protect their investment in Brookfield,” Kurfehs said.
Municipal officials had been concerned that Costco, which is one of the Brookfield’s larger taxpayers, might leave town since the company had said it had outgrown its current operations. They have said that Costco also has donated to several local organizations.
“I spoke with senior officials of Costco the first week I was in office in December 2009 and encouraged them to stay in town and to let them know that in my personal opinion it was unfortunate that they weren’t approved for the cornfield parcel,” Davidson said. “The Federal Road corridor between Costco and Stew Leonard’s, which is located just over the border in Danbury, generates a huge volume of traffic, which has grown over the last 15 years as several furniture stores have opened.
“Both Costco and BJ’s want to make improvements to Federal Road and address the flow of traffic,” Davidson said. “Their projects are going to generate more tax revenue and help the other businesses on Federal Road by attracting customers. The additional traffic is something that we are going to have to address. Nothing comes for free.”
Costco wrote in its application that “the location of the existing [Union Savings Bank] building creates a less than optimal pattern within the site.”
“With the existing entry drive to Costco, located south of the bank, the main parking field is split in half and circulation around the bank is awkward,” the company stated.
The company also stated that it would seek to make improvements to Federal Road and provide better access to its site.
There is a large volume of traffic along that section of Federal Road, particularly on Saturday when many shoppers from outside the area visit Costco and the furniture stores.
The “new site access will feature a new signalization intersection that will provide better access to the site, as well as a safer design on Federal Road (which will address state-identified safety issues on Federal Road,” Costco wrote in its application.
The proposal will also have to pass the State Traffic Commission (STC) before it is implemented.
Kurfehs said the combination of BJ’s Wholesale Club’s move and the proposed expansion of Costco will boost business for smaller stores along the southern corridor of Federal Road.
“You start with an anchor,” he said. “You will have two terrific anchors in Costco and BJ’s.”
Brookfield, a town of about 16,400 people, ranks in the top 25 percent in the state in sales tax revenue that it generates, according to Davidson, largely because of the commercial establishments along the southern corridor of Federal Road.
In its application, Costco has proposed demolishing the nearby branch of Union Savings Bank and relocating it to the nearby 3,200-square-foot and use some of the additional space to construct a gas fueling station.
The application stated that the owners of the property, Gary Michael and Dennis Michael, “will acquire” the Savoy Rug Gallery at 236 Federal Road “and incorporate it into the site.”
Kurfehs, who represents Savoy Rug Gallery, said he doesn’t believe that the company would relocate in Brookfield.
He said he would recuse himself from discussions and any votes when the Economic Development Commission discusses Costco’s proposed expansion at its June 21 meeting, as well as any other future sessions.