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Costco on the move?

Retail giant Costco has filed plans to build a new, larger Medford store just west of Trader Joe’s that would replace its existing location on Highway 62.

Representatives of Costco submitted drawings with the city of Medford this month to build a 155,548-square-foot warehouse off North Central Avenue between East McAndrews Road and Rossanley Drive. 

The new building on 15 acres with 715 parking spaces would be located in the Northgate Centre Marketplace, operated by Regency Centers, and would be about 19,000 square feet larger than the existing Costco.

Ron Vachris, senior vice president of operations for Costco, said that while his company has submitted plans with the city, that doesn’t mean it’s definitely going to build the new store.

“We are looking at a potential relocation,” he said. “It is just one of the sites we’re looking at. We are looking at other sites.”

Vachris declined to discuss the location of the other sites or whether they are in Medford.

He said the company still needs to have numerous discussions with the city about the proposed Northgate location.

“Nothing’s been confirmed at this point,” he said.

A design of the new Costco submitted to the city shows an exterior with a number of different features and building materials to help break up the long horizontal lines. The building will be more energy-efficient and will use recycled materials, according to the plans.

Entrances to the Costco would be on North Central Avenue, East McAndrews Road, Rossanley Drive and Court Street. An existing roundabout that routes traffic to Trader Joe’s and other stores also would be used by motorists heading to Costco.

Plans show other, unnamed retail stores proposed on vacant land adjacent to the proposed Costco, mostly situated along North Central Avenue.

Costco and Regency also will have to clean up contamination on the property from a timber mill that was once located on the site.

According to Jackson County property data, the existing Costco on Highway 62 is 136,756 square feet and was built in 1991. By comparison, the north Medford Walmart is 152,000 square feet, and the south Medford Walmart is 192,903 square feet.

Craig Ramey, senior vice president in charge of Oregon and Washington for Regency Centers, said Costco had expressed interest in the property for some time.

“Hopefully Costco will be able to go forward and start construction this year,” said Ramey.

Once the Costco is under construction, Ramey said Regency Centers will negotiate with other retail stores and restaurants to fill the 40-acre Northgate Centre.

“There’s plenty of room to grow and add new businesses,” he said.

According to Costco’s plans, it wants to locate its store closer to the downtown. The new store also would be closer to the north Medford interchange on Interstate 5. The existing store is about a mile from Interstate 5.

The city’s building code requires Costco to have 73 bike stalls, based on the size of the building. Costco has asked that the number be reduced to 10 stalls because most of its clients don’t cycle to the store.

Bill Hoke, deputy city manager, said he anticipates it will take at least six months before Costco has the permits in hand.

“Six months is a normal amount of time,” he said.

Once all the materials are submitted, the project will be the subject of a public hearing before the Medford Site Plan and Architectural Commission.

The Costco building is one of the company's latest designs, Hoke said, and will feature a gas station similar to the existing location. He said he didn’t foresee any major issues other than dealing with the contaminated soil and developing a traffic circulation plan.

“That is a desirable location,” he said. “I’m glad they made the commitment to stay in the city.”

Hoke said he didn't think it would be difficult to attract another operation to take over the existing Costco location.

Costco was founded in 1983, and its first store was located in Seattle. The company has more than 600 locations now.

Besides the U.S., Costco has locations in Canada, Australia, England, Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

If approved, a new Costco store would sit on this site west of the Northgate Centre Marketplace in North Medford. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell