Chamber, city will seek to woo Costco

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Last week, the Salem City Council rejected a proposal to relocate Costco further south along Interstate 5. Now the Keizer Chamber of Commerce and Keizer City Council will be sending letters to Costco asking them to consider a move to Keizer.

Jonathan Thompson, chair of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee, told   Keizer city councilors that the chamber’s board had voted to send a letter to Costco asking them to consider Keizer in its relocation efforts. He requested that the city do the same.

“While we probably don’t have space within city limits, there is space around Keizer and maybe something we can weigh in and help with,” Thompson said. “It’s also a good idea to let Costco know that somebody still loves them and wants them.”

By consensus, the council agreed to draft a letter to Costco expressing support.

“I think that it’s an exceptionally good idea to provide good feedback to that business. Costco has a great outlook in terms of how they treat employees and treat their customers,” said Councilor Bruce Anderson.

At a Salem City Council meeting Dec. 10, the group nixed plans for Costco to move from its current location off Hawthorne Avenue to a new space on Kuebler. Neighbors of the planned shopping center turned out en masse to express their displeasure with the proposal.

According to Salem Reporter, opponents couched their dissent in the traffic impacts to the surrounding area and said a Costco was not in line with original proposals for the space. The council voted against allowing the Costco move 5-3, but the decision will likely end up being appealed to the state’s land use authorities.

There is no immediately-apparent space where Costco could move in Keizer’s current boundaries. The plans submitted to the Salem City Council called for a 166,000-square-foot store and a 30-pump gas station.

Still, Thompson said a potential move could be a consideration as Keizer considers growing its Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).

Keizer Development Director Nate Brown said that would still be a stretch.

“We would have to document a specific land need for retail, but our current need is only minor.[Changing the UGB] is all tied to the land need and how is it justified,” Brown said.

Brown said a more likely space would be across I-5 from Keizer Station, but that land is also controlled by Salem and comes with significant floodway and floodplain issues.

Still, Brown said he would be happy to reach out to Costco’s development team and “tell them what we’ve got.”

Mayor Cathy Clark said this didn’t mean Keizer would be willing to bend over backward to bring the retail giant to the city.

“We’re not giving away the store, that’s not how we operate. We don’t pay to have businesses come here. We are the gift that keeps on giving with a $2.08 tax rate,” Clark said.

Attracting Costco to Keizer already has one high-profile, Keizer-minded proponent in Oregon Rep. Bill Post.

“I am working behind the scenes with city, chamber and other officials to see what we can do to help Costco find Keizer,” Post wrote on social media after hearing news of Salem’s decision.