Costco is hoping to open a new store in East Lyme.
The company announced Wednesday that they are looking to open a location at the Gateway Commons in East Lyme.
Gateway Commons is adjacent to exit 74 off of Interstate-95 in East Lyme. The warehouse would be the anchor of a planned 200-acre mix-use development project at the Gateway Commons site.
“We’re a small town and mostly a residential community. We have very, very little economic development opportunities. This is, in fact, our only opportunity for economic growth,” said East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson, adding it would be the only big box store in town.
Nickerson expects Costco to add half a million dollars to the tax base and many new jobs. Plus there will eventually be more retail establishments added to the site.
Costco previously had plans to open a store in the same development, but those fell through in November 2017. Nickerson and one of the developers could not explain what happened.
Since around 2008, the idea of Gateway Commons was in the works. It’s lead by Gateway Development/East Lyme, LLC, a partnership between KGI Properties of Providence, Rhode Island and The Simon Konover Company, of West Hartford, who plan to develop residential and commercial use on the site.
They have already built The Sound at Gateway Commons, which features 10 buildings with 280 luxury apartments.
The Simon Konover Company Vice President, Newton Brainard, said the complex, which was completed in 2015, is currently the largest taxpayer in East Lyme.
With a Costco added to the mix, there are concerns about traffic. The nearby section of I-95 is known for being busy.
Nickerson said there are plans in the works for the state to widen Flanders Road and fix the bridge above it. He said there are also plans to make the on and off ramps to I-95 more efficient.
“I think the region will find Costco in East Lyme. It’s next to two highways,” Nickerson said about the prospect of bringing people into southeastern Connecticut.
With a Costco gas facility also part of the plan, a manager at Niantic Mobil, who did not want his name printed, said he’s not in favor. There’s already a lot of competition with gas stations on the same road and it could hurt business.
The owner of Niantic Star, Mark Dahdal, said he’s ready to compete and even lower his prices.
Gateway Development/East Lyme, LLC will appear before the East Lyme Zoning Commission on Aug. 2 to request a site plan modification involving architectural changes, which Costco would need to move forward.
Brainard said Costco hopes to break ground in September and be up-and-running by November 2019.