Costco planned for St. Albert
Deal hinges on resolution of lawsuit, Landrex
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 18, 2012 06:00 am
Costco Wholesale is coming to St. Albert if Landrex Developers and the city can work out their differences over servicing, Landrex’s CEO confirmed Thursday.
Larry Andrews said the popular warehouse retail giant will be part of a 50-acre shopping centre located on the east side of Highway 2, just north of King of Kings Lutheran Church at the north end of St. Albert Trail.
“There’s nothing done but we’re a long ways down the road,” Andrews said.
Andrews hinted that other big-name stores will also be a part of the development but declined to name any.
“It appears that, subject to resolving our servicing issues with the city, that Costco and others are coming,” Andrews said.
Costco Wholesale did not respond to requests for confirmation by the Gazette’s deadline.
The only obstacle to finalizing the deal is an outstanding lawsuit between Landrex and the City of St. Albert, Andrews said. Filed last summer, Landrex alleges it has been overcharged for off-site levies in the first two phases of Erin Ridge North and does not want to pay levies for phase three.
Mayor Nolan Crouse said he believes the two sides will be able to work out the servicing disagreement very soon, without going to court. Landrex has already postponed two court dates as talks have progressed with the city.
“They launched that lawsuit as a serious wake-up call to make sure that some of the issues that were concerning developers were dealt with,” Crouse said. “We all know St. Albert has had a reputation of not being easy to deal with.”
He added the city was not willing to cave to all of Landrex’s demands just because of Costco.
“We are not going to resign to the demands of all developers because we are going to land Costco.”
But Crouse was still thrilled with the news about the retailer coming to town.
“Costco – like Walmart triggered the west side of the highway – would trigger that on the east side,” Crouse said. “We want Costco and we want Landrex to be happy.”
Darel Baker, chair of the chamber of commerce, said in an email the group is happy to hear the news.
“The St Albert and District Chamber of Commerce feels this would be a great thing from the perspective of another “anchor” to attract other commercial interest and shoppers who will undoubtedly visit other businesses while in St. Albert.”
Andrews said he has been actively pursuing Costco as a possible tenant for his proposed shopping centre for two years. He even brought in a “major shopping centre developer” to bring his vision to fruition.
“They’re the ones that made the final arrangements with Costco and others,” Andrews said, declining to name the company.
Andrews said he too believes the city and his company will be able to come to an agreement on servicing and off-site levies in the near future, especially with construction season officially beginning in April, which would allow construction crews to get pipes into the ground ahead of actual building construction.
“We’re hopeful this will resolve itself soon so we can begin construction in April, and that’s servicing construction.”
While he couldn’t give an actual timeline, Andrews said that, once the infrastructure is in place, Costco would begin work “imminently.”
“This is a 50-acre shopping centre. This thing is huge,” Andrews said, adding the servicing costs alone are estimated between $45 million and $50 million.
Andrews added the deal with Costco picked up steam once there was a “change in bureaucratic leadership” at the city, hinting at former city manager Bill Holtby’s dismissal.
He added that, once construction begins, it will be up to the city to prove it is ready to embrace business.
“We have a huge economic commitment to the city of St. Albert,” he said, “and we will see shortly if they are as business-friendly as they say.”