By Jason Stone, INDEPENDENT NEWSMEDIA
One of the worst-kept secrets in Surprise history is now out of the bag.
Wholesale retail giant Costco wants to come to Surprise – which could fulfill the top retail request for Surprise residents.
Thanks to records first uncovered by the Arizona Republic, Costco has submitted plans to build a 152,000-square-foot warehouse on the southwest corner of Waddell Road and Sarival Avenue.
City officials are still not speaking on the matter officially, but it’s clear it’s full-steam ahead bringing in a retailer that residents have wanted for years.
“Nothing is official until they are open for business,” Surprise Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic said in a statement. “We hope to throw them a Surprise party when the time is right.”
The company still needs to purchase the land, secure the necessary permits and go through all the approval stages along the way. Once that’s done, it typically takes Costco about three months to construct one of its stores, meaning it should be ready for business sometime in 2020.
“When I see a shovel, then I’ll feel better about it,” said District 3 Councilmember Patrick Duffy, who serves the area around the projected site. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time and hopefully I can share more soon.”
Records show the proposed store will include a fuel station with 24 pumps with the capacity to add eight more pumps if needed.
Other features include a tire station with four to five bays, a pharmacy, outdoor food court, bakery, optical center and a photo center.
The parking lot will accommodate around 800 vehicles.
Costco has been among the top of residents’ wish list since the city began conducting retail surveys a few years ago. It topped the list in 2015 and 2017 and was taken out of the 2019 survey all together because the city was well-aware Costco was already desired.
“Our team remains steadfast in our enthusiasm to win their commitment to Surprise, although we want to emphasize that it is ultimately the company’s decision to announce or verify any information about any new location decision or timeframe,” Ms. Jerkovic said.
Costco currently has 12 Valley locations, with the closest ones to Surprise in Arrowhead and Goodyear. The Arrowhead location at 17550 N. 79th Ave., is nearly nine miles from the Surprise City Hall. The proposed location at Waddell and Sarival is about four miles from City Hall.
Costco vs. Sam’s Club
The proposed store won’t be too far away from Sam’s Club, 16573 W. Bell Road, a similar membership store about two miles north.
Consumer Reports recently compared the two stores and picked Costco as the better selection of the two based on factors such as cleanliness, meat and produce quality, customer service, store-brand quality and prices of organic items.
The study also found Costco scored higher than Sam’s Club in jewelry, women’s and kids’ clothing and eyeglasses.
However, the typical Costco annual membership price is slightly higher. Consumer Reports found the average person pays $55 to shop at Costco, but about $10 less at Sam’s Club.
“If you look at where the Costco is at Arrowhead, there’s a Sam’s Club at 83rd Avenue and Union Hills [Road], too,” Mr. Duffy said about the two stores potentially battling it out for customers. “It’s kind of like McDonald’s near a Burger King. They all kind of go near each other.”
Not only has Costco been a big request for residents, Mr. Duffy is hoping its potential arrival would bring a big boost to the long-awaited development on the west portions of Surprise along the growing Loop 303 Corridor.
“This needs to catapult the Prasada project,” Mr. Duffy said. “There were some people who moved here 10 years ago just for that. This is the way it was supposed to go over 10 years ago.”
The site plan for the Costco project received approval from the Prasada Design Review Committee last month.
“I think this is big not only for this district but for the city as a whole,” Mr. Duffy said. “The people deserve it.”
The Costco site would be along a stretch of Waddell that will be widened later this year. Mr. Duffy said the work should be done by next spring.
When asked if the work would be done by time Costco would be open, Mr. Duffy said, “It better be.”
Costco has not publicly commented on its plans on moving into Surprise. City officials have been reluctant to talk about the project for fear the company would pull out.
“We will have to defer to the company for any specifics as to their timeframe,” Jerkovic said. “As with any new business, they have to determine the schedule that works for them and any time-to-market goals.”