Costco signs letter of intent to acquire 40-acre Pleasanton site

Hearings likely to start in February for city's new economic development zone

With 22,000 members in Pleasanton, it's no surprise that Costco Wholesale wants to build a store here to relieve the overcrowded conditions it has at its stores in Danville and Livermore.

With a potential sales- and property-tax base in the millions of dollars, it's no secret that Pleasanton city leaders would welcome the membership-only warehouse club.

It's also no secret that a study now underway to create the city's first economic development zone on Johnson Drive could provide the impetus to bring Costco to northwest Pleasanton.

Costco recently signed a letter of intent to acquire the 40-acre Johnson Drive site from Nearon Enterprises, which bought the property after Clorox moved its research center to a new corporate campus nearby. The Clorox research center that was on Johnson Drive was torn down, and the property, the oldest industrial-zoned acreage in Pleasanton, is now mostly empty.

The goal of the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone -- known more easily as JDEDZ -- is to transform acreage into a thriving commercial corridor that capitalizes on its location at the intersection of the I-680 and I-580 freeways.

Although no one in local government officially acknowledges that Costco is a leading -- if not the only -- candidate for developing the property, there's been plenty of talk before meetings of the Planning Commission and City Council by a lobbying group opposed to the store.

Bill Wheeler, president and CEO of Black Tie Transportation, has been most vociferous in urging both groups to reject a Costco store, even though Costco has not filed a bid to build one here. Wheeler's office and large garage that houses many of his limousines and buses at 7080 Commerce Drive borders on the Nearon-owned site. He contends that the two-lane Johnson Drive is too congested now to accommodate the traffic a Costco store would attract.

His associates, including the owner of a nearby Shell station where he fuels his cars and the manager of the DoubleTree hotel where Black Tie parks some of its vehicles, have joined him at the podium at council and commission meetings, arguing that Costco would also hurt gas stations and local businesses that sell merchandise and services Costco offers.

So far, none of Costco's 22,000 members has appeared before city or business organizations supporting a Costco store, but that could change.

Once the JDEDZ planning, with an environmental impact report, is completed with a fiscal, traffic and economic analysis, the proposal will first be heard at a joint workshop meeting of planners and the council, probably in late February. If it's decided to proceed, then both groups will hold public hearings to consider creating the economic development zone.

The rezoning plan calls for widening Johnson Drive to four lanes, probably taking away on-street parking that now serves Black Tie employees.

The sharp turn on Johnson Drive near Stoneridge Drive would be straightened, Stoneridge would be widened at Johnson Drive and a dual on-ramp would be built for traffic heading north on the I-680 on-ramp.

Only then, after the development zone is created and improvements identified, would Nearon be able to close a deal with Costco.

The store, like any other applicant for a building permit, would have to go before the Planning Commission and City Council on its own to seek approval. With opposition likely, Costco's bid may closely resemble the controversial application by Wal-Mart to build a neighborhood grocery store on Santa Rita Road.

In the end, hundreds of residents turned out to support Wal-Mart to add a much-needed grocery at that location; 22,000 Costco members would be likely to do the same.

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Like this comment
Posted by FanDanville
a resident of Danville
on Dec 29, 2015 at 10:15 am

I will definitely SUPPORT a Costco at that location, but only if it includes a large Costco Gas Station and a Tire Service. In other words, a FULL Costco store (not a limited store like Danville/San Ramon).

Black Tie business uses the street as its own private parking lot--that's why they don't want Costco (or any other major improvement) to that area. They want their business space left alone and that is understandable, but self-centered and unrealistic.

The Gas Station obviously wouldn't want another gas station in the area, especially a Costco station.......and it has an inside business relationship with the Black Tie business (sells gasoline, parking lot space, etc.).

Please get Costco in there ASAP. It will be a benefit to us all!

Like this comment
Posted by b Glas
a resident of another community
on Dec 30, 2015 at 9:37 am

A Costco at this site is a great idea! It would likely not impede on the shell business, as people have to be costco members to buy costco gasoline, and if they do, they probably already drive out of the area to get it.

People in Pleasanton need to wake up and realize that adding this to our town will be a plus, not a minus. Widening the roads and making them safer is a great idea, and will certainly help congestion in this area.

I hope we don't get a crowd of NIMBY's to oppose this great idea, but if we do I plan on making myself heard!

Like this comment
Posted by mloliver
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 31, 2015 at 11:19 am

I make several trips a month to a business on Commerce St which is on the north end of the proposed property. I noticed buildings coming down and a lot of grading more than a year ago. I was told then it was for Costco. I was thrilled because I avoid the Danville Costco because the parking is so difficult. They can't build it soon enough for me.

Like this comment
Posted by Richard Mallory
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2016 at 11:19 am

The City of Pleasanton has permitted many businesses in the Johnson Drive / Commerce Circle area (including 10 fitness centers) that do not have enough parking for either their customers or their employees. Perhaps the City could correct this mistake by negotiating some public parking in this Costco deal. Our business property on Commerce Circle has its own private parking, but it is a constant battle to keep surrounding businesses from trespassing on our lots. This will only increase with the loss of Johnson Drive street parking.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2016 at 7:58 am

As a long term resident of Pleasanton,and a Liveremore Costco shopper. I would like to point out that there is absolutely no difference in the road structure between Independence drive in Livermore and Johnson drive in Pleasanton as they presently exist,They are both single lane frontage roads adjacent to our freeways. Livermore Costco has parking issues,but I have never experience traffic issues on Independence Drive while going to Costco.
As I remember years ago, Costco wanted to build a store at the old Kodak site on Alcosta Blvd. in San Ramon and
was denied the opportunity to do so because of traffic concerns. Thats when Danville welcomed Costco there and
the store was built. As a result, Danville ended up with all the tax benefits that Costco provides the community and San Ramon has the Costco shoppers traveling on Crow Cannon Road with no tax benefits to the city.
The addition of a Costco in Pleasanton would benefit the community in many ways while having a minimum impact on traffic or enviromental concerns. Lets welcome them into our town.

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