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Costco coming to North Auburn?

Developer says it looks likely
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Will North Auburn soon have a Costco? Roseville developer Jim Conkey expressed confidence Thursday that it will. But if something goes wrong and Costco’s expansion plans change, he’s hedging his bets by keeping the proposal more generic. Some nearby residents are asking whether a Costco is really compatible for the site – or any other big-box store for that matter. Officially, Conkey’s proposal is called the Bohemia Retail Project. It’s a nod to the 18-acre Costco site’s past incarnation as the Bohemia lumber mill. That way, if Costco pulls out, development approvals from Placer County that Conkey is now seeking could be transferred to another retailer. Conkey said he’s not ruling anyone out, including Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club. “We don’t live in a perfect world,” Conkey said. “There’s a risk in this.” Conkey expects the draft environmental review should be ready for public perusal in October. Once the review is approved, Costco – or any other similar store – could be ready to open its doors within two years, he projected. The property is located on the west side of Canal Street and north of Luther Road. To the west is access from Highway 49 off the recently created Hulbert Way. It’s also behind the recently opened Plaza retail center on the highway. The Bohemia mill shut down in the early 1980s and Conkey has owned the property since 1987. Since then, he has attempted to build a Wal-Mart on the site, sold and regained the land after a Utah grocery chain’s expansion into California failed in the late 1990s, wooed and lost out to the county in a bid for a Home Depot, and pulled the plug three years ago on a residential subdivision just as the home market was tanking. This time around, Conkey said he’s already invested at least $800,000 on the new Costco plan. That investment includes almost $300,000 for an environmental review project that takes in issues raised about impacts on roads, compatibility with nearby residential subdivisions and what effect the superstore would have on established businesses. Residents of subdivisions totaling nearly 300 homes east of the site are expressing concerns about a development proposal that would locate a 155,000-square-foot Costco – but might be another store – across Canal Street. The possibility of a Costco on the Bohemia site became more of a reality when city officials said this past spring that the retailer was no longer talking with a Nevada Street land owner to locate on a parcel within city limits. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.