Nearly 15 years after a battle among developers to build the first big box stores in Verona yielded a Farm and Fleet and ended with a recession, a Costco could be next.
The bulk goods company known for locating its warehouse style operations in busy suburbs near highways would locate a 161,000 square foot store at the southeast corner of County Hwys. M and PB on 26 acres of land owned by the Livesey Company. It is already zoned for commercial use, despite being in an industrial park.
The company submitted its plans to the city Monday, June 8. City administrator Adam Sayre told the Press that Costco had been working with Verona for about six months.
The Plan Commission is expected to review the plans July 6, and the company could return for approvals by the commission and Common Council as soon as August. The submission indicates developers would like to begin building in fall 2021 or 2022, and open the following summer.
Costco has two stores in Dane County, one in Middleton and the other in Sun Prairie. The 153,000 square foot Middleton store is a popular destination for Veronans, but it’s gotten steadily busier since it opened in 2008 and seems to have reached capacity.
Rumors that Costco would put a second westside store either in Verona or Fitchburg have circulated for at least two years and perhaps longer. The company’s submission to the city reports that 45% of Verona households own Costco memberships.
The store in the Verona Technology Park,would be about 10% larger than the company’s average, 144,500 square feet, and about 40% bigger than the Farm and Fleet off East Verona Avenue. It would allot four additional outlots for complementary retailers and restaurants, as Costco stores usually do, and it would also include a gas station with three islands and 18 pumping stations.
The location was one of a handful of spots in Verona developers were considering for siting big box stores in 2007 and 2008, before the retail market dropped precipitously and companies began pulling back the reins on new buildings.
Two other sites would have been directly across M, in and next to Liberty Business Park.
At the time, the city’s Plan Commission and council were concerned about oversaturating the market and wanted to focus on Verona Avenue, hoping the so-called “barbell effect” of having destination retail on either end of the city would benefit downtown. That led to the approval of the West End development, which never panned out, and the land eventually was sold to the school district and is the site of a new high school set to open in the fall.
Meanwhile, the southeast area of the city developed slowly under the preferred emphasis of industrial, with the city rebuffing attempts by Liberty Business Park owner David Reinke to focus on retail and residential. That area, north of the proposed Costco site, now contains a hotel, several restaurants and some flex buildings that are used for commercial operations.
The technology park developed more closely to what city leaders intended, with a growing chemical company, a metal fabrication company, a biochemical plant, a University of Wisconsin facility and two electrical companies complemented by a brewery and dog day care facility. The corner has always been zoned for complementary retail, to take advantage of the high visibility there.
The Verona submission makes no prediction about jobs, but the Middleton store has about 230 employees, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report from 2018. It was built for about $10 million, according to reporting from the State Journal, and it was assessed last year at $10.8 million.
Verona’s site will use 17.8 acres for the store and gas station and another six acres for the outlots, and it features 751 parking spots, expandable to 820, with four access points to the store. The submission notes that the site plan saves a large heritage oak tree near the PB and M intersection.