The proposed Costco in northwest Fresno remains acres of dirt and grass patches.
Despite some reports that ground could be broken by midyear, that won’t happen.
“The best case would be January of ’24,” said Tom Anderson, Costco’s real estate broker with Commercial Retail Associates.
Anderson said Costco construction goes fast, about six months, pushing the west Herndon Avenue store to a mid-2024 opening.
The environmental impact report, produced by a third party, is expected any day. Once it becomes published, the public will have 45 days to comment. The EIR will eventually reach the planning commission, then the city council for approval.
Bigger Store, More Gas Pumps, Car Wash
Costco revealed plans in 2021 to move its northwest Fresno location to a bigger site on the north side of Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive. The location would include a larger 32-pump gas station, a home delivery “last mile” facility, and something new for the Central Valley — a car wash.
The proposed new location — at 178,000 square feet — would be 40,000 more square feet than the current site on West Shaw Avenue, east of Golden State Boulevard.
Preliminary plans show the store itself would be on the southeast corner, toward Herndon. The gas station and car wash buildings would be on the northeast end toward Spruce Avenue.
“I can’t form an opinion yet. I’m going to be very interested in seeing what I hear from residents — positive and negative. I can tell you on the overall scale, the Costco at Shaw has grown way beyond its capacity per customer base,” Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi said. He represents the area of the proposed Costco relocation.
Anderson is not expecting any big changes with the EIR.
“There’s been lots of modification and work to make sure traffic, access, circulation, all of those things work. Costco is as interested as anybody to make sure it works because their business model needs to have people attend the store like any retailer,” Anderson said.
A Costco spokesperson did not have new details to add.
“It is our company policy to not comment regarding future Costco warehouses until we are ready to share details about the new location (usually 2-3 months in advance),” Costco said. A website listing about-to-open Costcos does not mention a Fresno location.
Karbassi Doesn’t Want Costco Moving Location to Madera
It is important to Karbassi to keep the Costco within Fresno city limits.
“I don’t want them going to Madera. I mean, it’s not a very long drive for us, but we’re going to lose a lot of local jobs and tax base. And that’s concerning,” Karbassi said.
Anderson did not have specific numbers but is optimistic about how much money the new Costco can generate.
“The revenue to the city will be astronomical,” Anderson said.
The Costco business model is to own its land. It is currently in escrow to purchase the Herndon/Riverside property from Jenco Farms. The sales price is unknown.
The current building on West Shaw Avenue is owned by KT-Costco Ventures, in a partnership with companies associated with developer Ed Kashian.
The new Fresno site will only host a Costco and no other stores, Anderson said.
Neighbors Already Concerned
“It’s a significant impact to our community and there’s not a lot of awareness out there.” — Concerned neighbor Mike Ledieff
One resident near the proposed Costco is wary of his potential new neighbor.
“It’s a significant impact to our community and there’s not a lot of awareness out there … I’ve got a six-year-old and an eight-year-old and I want them to be able to ride the bike safely through our neighborhood and, with Costco arriving, I feel that’s going to be a big challenge,” said Mike Ledieff.
Anderson, the commercial broker, said such neighborhood concerns would be addressed.
“The city of Fresno has done an extensive amount of preparation for handling traffic out there. They seem to be very confident that everything will work,” Anderson said.
Ledieff is frustrated with what he calls a lack of communication from the city. There was one meeting in fall 2021 when plans were first released.
“It really seems like this project is going to fly under the radar and the residents haven’t had a lot of opportunity to understand how it will impact them,” Ledieff said.
The closest precedent is in Clovis. In 2019, the Costco moved from a location at Ashlan Avenue west of Peach Avenue to Clovis Avenue south of Shaw Avenue.
Figures provided by the city of Clovis show public safety calls went down after the move. From the four-year period before the move (2015-2019), the Ashlan location received 869 police and 86 fire calls.
In the four years since the move (2019-2023), the new location received 702 police and 87 fire calls.
Parking lots would be on the west side of the property, toward Riverside Drive. Several residential blocks lie on the west side of the road.
Ledieff said with the additions of the Marketplace at El Paseo across the street on Herndon and the opening of Veterans Boulevard, traffic has increased already.
He said there have been “mixed responses” in his neighborhood about the new Costco.
Karbassi Can’t Say Much
Because of its land use nature, Karbassi said he cannot comment publicly or speak directly to constituents. The Fresno City Council has a quasi-judicial role in determining land use, and cannot make any comment that gives them the appearance of bias.
“I just feel terrible. People reach out to me. I just say I’m sorry (and can’t comment),” Karbassi said.
Karbassi is referring constituents to call the planning department for any comments.
The city would need to change the zoning. According to public documents, the changes include a rezone from “Community Commercial to the General Commercial planned land use designation and reclassify a portion of West Herndon Avenue from Expressway to Super Arterial.”