Issaquah-based Costco—one of the nation’s premiere “big box” retailers, has begun construction of a huge cold-storage warehouse in a Sumner real estate development where it will consolidate other storage facilities as well. It also has confirmed it plans to set about transforming into fact rumors that have been rampant in Puyallup for months.

“We are definitely in the process of diligently looking for appropriate space in Puyallup,” says Costco president Jeff Brotman. “As soon as we decide which of several sites best suits our purposes, we plan to move ahead as quickly as possible on it.”

Several Puyallup business insiders expect Costco to settle on a site near the South Hill Mall, but Brotman would not confirm that speculation.

On the other hand, it is definite that Costco has not only broken ground on a new $20 million facility in Sumner but that it will eventually consolidate more of its storage capability at the new site.

Costco closed a deal for 94 acres in Tarragon Properties’ Valley South Corporate Park project in Sumner. The company spent about $25 million for the property. The price was well above average, admits Costco Vice President Tom Walker.

“It was worth it,,” Walker explains. “Tarragon did a lot of the preparation. That’s why we were able to begin construction immediately.”

Tarragon had already established utilities for the land, and had begun “pre-loading” dirt on the land, to better compact the soil for construction.

The company plans to build a 180,000-square-foot warehouse on the property. However, this leaves Costco with lot’s of land still available for development.

“Eventually, this property will combine the cold-storage facility we’re constructing now with our dry-storage operations, which are currently located in Auburn,” confides Walker. “We’re going to move that whole operation down here to the Sumner location.”

Walker says the company hopes to complete the cold-storage phase of construction in September of this year.

Sumner is bracing itself for a surge of development industrial in the region of Tarragon’s project. To that end, the City has joined forces with regional authorities—such as the state Department of Transportation—to launch a mammoth overhaul of the transportation infrastructure of the neighborhood.

Currently, crews are constructing a new interchange to ease traffic congestion in getting trucks onto state route 167. The second phase of the project will widen 142nd Ave East from a two-lane road to a five-lane road, better suited for industrial needs. The project is budgeted at about $24 million.

A City of Sumner Local Improvement District (LID) for that area will spend over $6 million of that sum. The City itself will contribute almost $200,000 in additional funds to the cause.

“This whole region’s been zoned industrial for quite some time now,” explains project engineer Terry Bock. “It’s simply taken us along time to put all the necessary variables together.”

Norvanco International, which warehouses for Panasonic, has taken almost 200,000-square-feet in the area. Maersk Shipping and sports shoe manufacturer Brooks Sports are two other companies which have also leased significant space in the interim.

“Eventually the only residences in this area will be around 29th Avenue, where already existing residential units have been exempted,” Bock observes. “Everything else in this are will be industrial.”

By Christopher Hord, Business Examiner staff