Costco relocation approved in Fresno. New site is $98 million investment, company says

The Fresno Bee — April 19, 2024

Costco Wholesale may be looking to build a new, bigger store near the Marketplace at El Paseo on Herndon Avenue near Highway 99.

Costco Wholesale has won a green light from the Fresno City Council to relocate its existing West Shaw Avenue store to a new, larger location on West Herndon Avenue, a few miles to the northwest.

The council unanimously approved a cluster of zoning, planning and environmental actions that will allow Costco to develop a 22.4-acre site at the northeast corner of Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive. Thursday’s vote was the culmination of a process that was initially postponed from early March over traffic congestion concerns at the new location.

The company’s plans include a 219,000-square-foot building to house its members-only warehouse store as well as a “market delivery” operation that will deliver bulky goods to customers.

By contrast, the existing Costco store on West Shaw Avenue — described by company representatives as California’s first Costco when it opened in 1985 — is about 134,000 square feet in size. The Shaw store is too old to continue to serve the company’s needs, Costco representatives said, and the surrounding shopping center also provides no room for expansion.

The company expects to have almost 340 employees at the new store, most of whom will be full-time workers. That’s an increase from about 295 employees at the Shaw location, many of whom are expected to transfer to the Herndon/Riverside store.

The new location will include not only a 32-pump gas station, but also an automated car wash, both on the north side of the property, across a future extension of Spruce Avenue from the city-owned Riverside Golf Course.

The new store will represent a $98 million investment by Costco, Lynette Dias, a principal planner with consultant Urban Planning Partners, told the council.

Said Pari Holliday, Costco’s real estate development director for the store relocation: “Our plan would be to start construction later this fall and to be open in the summer of 2025.”

Costo’s lease at its Shaw store expires in September 2025, but the gas station at the old store will remain in operation.

A site plan for a proposed Costco commercial center in northwest Fresno details where the new membership warehouse store would be built at the southeastern area of the site, as well as a gas station and car wash on the north side of the parking lot. Kimley Horn & Associates City of Fresno

The new site sits diagonally across the Herndon/Riverside intersection from the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center at the southwest corner. The future Costco site was farmed for years as a fig orchard but has long been vacant.

One major component of the relocation is changing Herndon Avenue, which runs along the south edge of the property, from an “expressway” in the city’s traffic designations to a “super arterial” between Hayes Avenue and Riverside Drive. The change will allow for construction of a new private driveway on the north side of Herndon, about 500 feet east of Riverside along the eastern edge of the Costco property, and a new left-turn pocket for trucks heading east on Herndon to make left turns into the new drive to deliver goods to the store.

Another change to the traffic patterns will be an extension of Spruce Avenue, which currently dead-ends at the southeastern corner of Riverside Golf Course, about a quarter-mile east of Riverside Drive.

Costco Wholesale is proposing a new store on 22.4 acres of vacant land at the corner of Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive in northwest Fresno, seen in this drone image looking to the northeast from May 2021. Riverside Golf Course and the San Joaquin River are in the background with a Derrel’s Mini Storage location at upper right.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi, whose District 2 in northwest Fresno includes the Herndon/Riverside site, included several different conditions required of Costco as part of his motion to approve the project. Those include:

  • Converting the intersection of Spruce and Hayes avenues from its current configuration of two-way stop signs for drivers on Hayes Avenue to four-way stop signs and high-visibility crosswalks, as well as a pair of small median islands on Spruce Avenue near the Costco store. Both are intended as “traffic calming” measures to prevent drivers from speeding on Spruce Avenue.
  • Restricting and prohibiting all big-rig semi trucks making deliveries to the store — whether Costco-operated trucks or vendors — from using Riverside Drive for access and instead requiring them to use the new private drive off of Herndon.
  • Requiring Costco to pay for the partial repaving and restriping of westbound Herndon Avenue related to the new left-turn lane and private driveway.
  • Boosting the number of accessible parking spaces for persons with disabilities from Costco’s proposed 25 spaces to 45, out of a total of more than 900 parking stalls.

Among its other conditions of approval, Costco must also provide for an extension of netting to prevent errant balls from the nearby golf course from endangering customers at the gas station, car wash and parking lot.

“We understand these new conditions and we are agreeable to implementing them,” Holliday told the council just before the approval vote.

The environmental analysis forecasts that the new store would generate more than 10,600 new vehicle trips on weekdays and more than 14,200 trips on weekend days. Additionally, the analysis states, “Costco anticipates an average of about 10 to 13 trucks delivering goods on a typical weekday,” and two to three trucks each day delivering fuel to the affiliated gas station.

Access to the property for customers would be from several different points: three driveways on the west off of Riverside Drive, including one at Fir Avenue with new traffic signals; one at the north from Spruce Avenue; and two on the east side from the new private drive.

In addition to its bulk-sized retail offerings of groceries and other goods, the store is expected to offer the same features as the West Shaw Avenue location: a tire center, optical services and sales, hearing aid testing, pharmacy, prepared meats, bakery and alcohol sales.

Store hours are anticipated to be 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The car wash would be open those same hours.

The gas station would have longer hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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