Category Archives: Costco

Nothing, and Costco (But Really Nothing)

Mrs. Me and I just got back from two weeks in Alaska, about which more soon; that’s why not much posting lately, and apologies for delayed comment approval.  Will be fully up to pre-hiatus speed by next week.

For now, I will just note that besides several Wheaton dining changes over the past 15 months noted by various commenters, the Costco also opened in the Wheaton mall, and we went there today for the first (and last?) time.  It is a Costco…probably not much point in reviewing it. We are all familiar with the Costco, yes? Mrs. Me and I lament the traffic and parking mess it is exacerbating, but people seem to like having the store there, so whatevs.  I remain opposed to the Costco gas station (which sounds like it is still sort of in limbo), both for environmental reasons and because there are a half-dozen existing gas stations within a half-mile or so, on University and Connecticut and Viers Mill, who are in most cases longstanding members of the Wheaton business community and whose businesses would be badly hurt by a Costco station.

Back to actual food and whatnot soon.

Just When I Thought Costco Was In…

UPDATE to the following post (which I’m leaving up because you can’t delete the internets, plus why kill a good Godfather reference): it has been pointed out (thanks Chip) that in fact the council never agreed to the subsidy in the first place, so there is no reneging. I apologize for my confusion.

…they pull it back out?  Wheaton Patch reports on the possibility that the MoCo council may perform a Reverse Pacino and renege on their commitment to subsidize Costco’s arrival at Wheaton Westfield Mall.  I agree the subsidy may be somewhere between marginally too generous and completely unnecessary, and I remain ambivalent about the Costco (balancing convenience versus worse traffic) (the gas station has become a separate issue, happily), but I worry it will be bad for business/future Wheaton redevelopment if the council demonstrates a willingness to back out of existing agreements.  Unclear for now how serious the council is, or whether a reversal would cause Costco to say buh-bye to Wheaton.

Goodbye Recess, Helloooo Costco

And we’re back, at least as long as Pepco keeps the power on.

They may not be passing (out) gas — subject to environmental review! — but Costco is a-comin’ to Wheaton Mall. I was just forwarded an email from Westfield Wheaton GM Matt Barry that says in part:

“Costco has signed to come to Westfield Wheaton Shopping Center/Plaza. They will open here in Fall 2011 or Spring 2012. This will create great economic impact for Wheaton and we expect multiple other tenants to sign shortly.”

Good? Bad? For traffic or for residents or for Wheaton’s coffers?  Wait and see. Yes, I know this has already been reported, but I think nothing had been signed and official until now. Meanwhile, I might be more excited about a PG Wegman’s.

More soon, including Seattle trip report and further DC burger discussion. And, hopefully, some Wheaton eatin’.

Planning Board Tells Costco: Talk To The Hand

John noted in a comment to the previous post but I thought it warranted a higher profile: the MoCo planning board on Thursday unanimously said “thank you, no” to Costco re: the proposal to skip environmental review for their Wheaton Mall store. MoCo council gets a shot at its meeting next Thursday but I can’t imagine they’ll disagree with the planning board on this.  As the Gazette article notes, Costco could also still try to get its gasoliney way via the regular zoning process, although their public stance suggests they may just walk away. I sense that even many locals who might have supported the Costco (and still might) have been turned off by their attempt to pull and end-around the zoning regs.

Best quote, from board chairman Royce Hanson: “This may not be the worst text amendment that I have ever seen, but it certainly gets honorable mention.”

Also: Taste of Wheaton tomorrow!  Lunchtime today there was no sign of any imminent festival in the Triangle, but I expect Santa will bring all kinds of booths and stages and moon bounces overnight.

No Alcohol Sales At Maryland Costco Stores, Period

Somehow I missed this letter to the Gazette editor dated 4/30/2010 from the MoCo liquor control director, who oughta know. The key excerpt:

Maryland law prohibits the sale of alcohol by chain groceries and large chain retailers throughout the state, including Montgomery County. None of the eight Costcos in Maryland currently is able to sell beer and wine due to state law.

I guess Rodman’s and Snider’s aren’t “large chains” — but per Willy’s comment to the previous post, why does the White Oak Giant (for example) get to sell alcohol?  Is there indeed a single-outlet exception that George Griffin didn’t mention?  I have heard that before, so I’m assuming for now it’s true. Anyway, in this case it’s Maryland, not MoCo, making the rules.

Wheaton Costco Got a Brand New Blog (chingachingachingachingaching…)

This blog was set up by…who?  Community leaders, I guess, to provide a forum for us all to discuss Costco and Wheaton.  So go forth and discuss!

This is on the heels of yesterday’s meeting between Costco and the Kensington Heights Civic Association. Based on an email that was forwarded to me, the main interesting nuggets of info from the meeting are:

  • The old Hecht’s space would be razed, new structure built, with Costco upstairs and other retail-to-be-named-later on the ground floor;
  • Total cost of project estimated at $58 million, of which MoCo would contribute $4 million; estimated “economic impact” from Costco to “the region” estimated at $46 million annually (plus nearly 500 permanent jobs); not sure where these figures are coming from;
  • Stormwater management may be an issue;
  • Costco will only agree to the deal if (a) Moco kicks in the $4 million, and (b) they are allowed to build a gas station as part of the store complex — the gas station would go in the far SW corner of the mall, which is part of why nearby Kensington residents are nervous (noise, CO2, etc.).

Fascinating, captain. I wonder if the gas station is so crucial because it is incredibly profitable (in which case, why can’t other gas stations compete on price?) or because it is an incredible loss leader?  Or somewhere in between?

Safeway Costco Safeway Costco Safeway Costco

Suddenly hard to keep up with all the Wheaton redevelopment action. Reminds me of television programs: Gazette articles this week on Let’s Make a Redevelopment Deal (I’ll take what’s behind parking lot number 13, Monty!) and Costco Pressing Its Luck (watch those whammys!). Just Up The Pike discusses Safeway’s Extreme Makeover, and…I can’t think of a good tv show reference, but this is a really good post about redevelopment issues.

First, Wheaton’s Safeway may be all boarded up with no place to go, but at least it isn’t vermin-infested (yet). Take that, District!

Why doesn’t the development company tear down the boarded-up Safeway and get on with it?  Or, if they’re not ready to get on with it, why isn’t the Safeway still open? Just Up the Pike asked, but unless they omitted parts of Gary Stith’s answer, they didn’t actually get an answer. I say get on with it, already.

A few other general thoughts, mostly vis a vis the second JUTP post linked above, which is much more informational than anything I have to say:

I love Filippo Leo and Marchone’s (11224 Triangle Lane), but I don’t see how Costco would hurt his business. Costco does not make delicious Italian subs, fresh pizza dough, sopressata, or cannoli (or if they make it at all, it ain’t delicious). Costco could open next door to me and I would still go to Marchone’s for those things, because Marchone’s product is so good. The only local businesses that should fear Costco are Giant and Safeway. Maybe gas stations, but for me time is more valuable than money, so you’ll never catch me in the Costco gas line regardless of price. For the most part, especially with the 14-story apartment behemoth in the works, there will be plenty of consumers to go around. I’m more worried about traffic and the use of public funds that could be spent in more productive ways.

Costco would improve the mall. My first choice would be to blow up the mall and start from scratch with a mix of retail, housing, and office space, all better integrated in a pedestrian-centric way with downtown Wheaton than the current mall is. But if that is unrealistic, then Costco taking the old Hecht’s space at the mall’s South end seems reasonable, traffic issues aside. If you’re going to have the mall, something has to go there, right?  They don’t need another clothing store.  Nobody needs another furniture store.

JUTP notes that the Costco and Safeway developments are “very big proposals” but only the latest such proposals in a twenty-years-and-counting Wheaton development debate. They are indeed big proposals, and yet in a way they’re nevertheless only preliminary: they are only valuable if they lead to redevelopment of Wheaton’s core, that is, the land bordered by Viers Mill, Georgia, and University, where currently the Metrobuses and “Wheaton Triangle” live. The new Safeway building will dwarf surrounding structures, yet it and a mall Costco are still largely on the periphery of The Core. Housing density near the Metro is great; more retail is fine, even Costco is maybe fine, though I hope we don’t end up with any Red Lobsters in the end.  (No whammys, stop!) Wheaton desperately needs commercial office space to balance the housing and retail — think Discovery Channel in Silver Spring — and although I understand the argument that the housing and retail must come first, I am still kind of afraid the office space will never come at all. In thirty years, we may look back and think how silly we were to worry and it all worked out fine. Change is hard. But here and now, we’re confronted with a choice among so many doors, I’m not sure the Monty Hall Problem even applies.

A Day of Costco and Wegman’s

Perhaps inspired by the MoCo council, we went today to the Beltsville Costco, the only local source for Dungeness crab I know of. Traffic was a breeze — took maybe 15 minutes each way — but parking was a nightmare. I have rarely seen so many people transfer goods from cart to car so slowly. Lesson: Costco at lunchtime on a Saturday is always a bad idea (the line for pizza/hot dogs inside looked as long as the wait for a parking space). Today’s experience reinforced the notion that the Beltsville Costco is plenty close enough to Wheaton, and I would rather the mall find other, less car-intensive anchor tenants.

Then this afternoon we picked up friends at Dulles, preceded by a Wegman’s pilgrimmage, featuring the usual array of scallops, steaks, produce, etc etc. Wegman’s is culinary Disneyland. Not sure Wheaton is a possibility for a future Wegman’s, which is not yet anywhere in Maryland (allegedly coming to PG County soonish), but maybe Olney or something would work. Hope so — the Sterling store is great, but too far for anything close to regular shopping. Thank goodness for the Georgia Avenue H Mart.