Costco Coming to TC!

By this time next year, two major anticipated new retailers – Costco and Lucky’s Market – aim to welcome shoppers through their doors in Traverse City. The Ticker has the latest updates on both projects.

Cherry Capital Airport officials will appear before Grand Traverse County commissioners Wednesday to obtain new agreements that will allow the airport to finalize a 20-year lease with Costco.

The Northwest Regional Airport Commission (NRAC), which oversees airport operations, reached a deal with Costco on lease terms May 24. The contract calls for Costco to rent 18.3 acres of airport property for 20 years, at a cost of $167,401 per year. Costco has the right to renew the lease in 5-year increments for another 40 years, with rent increasing 7.5 percent each renewal. If the store remains on site for the full 60 years, its total lifetime rent will equal $12.7 million – income that will fund airport operations.

The deal, however, requires guarantees from Grand Traverse County and Leelanau County commissioners that Costco can remain on-site for the life of the lease. The counties own the airport property and have an agreement with NRAC to manage it – but that agreement expires in 2040.

“Costco just wants reassurance that if for some reason the counties ever terminate their agreement with the airport commission, they will still honor (the store) as a tenant,” explains Cherry Capital Airport Director Kevin Klein.

Local officials already approved zoning changes that will allow Costco to build an approximately 154,000 square-foot store on the property. Klein says once the lease contingencies are resolved, Costco will move ahead with submitting design plans to the city, completing necessary environmental studies, and pulling permits. The retailer is already working with the Grand Traverse County Road Commission on any potential lane or intersection changes required on South Airport Road to accommodate store traffic, says Klein, and plans to begin foundational work and site construction this fall.

“They’re looking to open in 2017 – hopefully by this time next year,” says Klein.

Lucky’s Market
After several months of delays, demolition is now underway on the vacant 26,000 square-foot building in Buffalo Ridge Center that is the planned future site of a new Lucky’s Market.

The organic and natural foods chain is in the midst of a significant national expansion – a growth model that focuses on deploying company resources to one new store at a time, with the remaining sites (like Traverse City’s) waiting in a queue.

“We currently have the majority of our team members focused on other stores, but will soon ramp up and be able to send more resources to Traverse City,” Lucky’s spokesperson Krista Torvik tells The Ticker. “We can’t wait to open in Traverse City and be a part of the community.”

Property developer Joe Sarafa says Traverse City is the ninth new store location Lucky’s is planning this year, and notes the site was turned over to the retailer January 4. “By our schedule, they’re behind 90 days, but that’s not by their schedule,” he says. Now that Lucky’s has begun demolition work on the property, construction will likely begin either later this month or early July, according to Sarafa.

“After that, they should be open in about six months,” he says.


Written by: by Beth Milligan

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