Columbia’s pursuit of a Costco Wholesale Warehouse store for the Midlands appears to be over.
The world’s second-largest retailer has cleared the last regulatory hurdle for building a store at Piney Grove and Fernandina roads in the Harbison area northwest of Columbia, according to the state Department of Transportation.
“They are able to get moving (right) now,” said Carol Hamlin, chief engineer in the DOT’s District 1 office, which is responsible for Richland and Lexington counties. “They are restricted by, essentially, not being able to work in the roads during peak hours and holidays, but they are able to start work now.”
Workers have already begun clearing land at the site. Costco has been approved to build a 153,000-square-foot retail center on 31.17 acres off I-26 at the intersection of Piney Grove, Piney Woods and Fernandina roads.
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The site, at 507 Piney Grove Road, can include up to 1,020 parking spaces. The company has been approved for three access points in an already busy retail area.
Costco said through a spokeswoman Tuesday it would have no comment on any plans for a Columbia store until it is closer to an opening.
The Issaquah, Wa.-based retail giant, which boasts global annual sales second only to Walmart, has four stores in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Greenville and Spartanburg.
Columbia-area residents have clamored for a Costco here for years. Revered by its members for high-quality merchandise, low-cost bulk sales and excellent customer service, Costco charges an annual membership fee of about $100.
Costco originally submitted plans for a Columbia store to Richland County in April 2015, but those plans were rejected because they failed to comply with certain landscaping and engineering requirements in the county land development code. New plans were submitted by the retailer in August and accepted by the county.
The retailer, which apparently had been in search of a suitable site for construction in the Midland for years, then faced hurdles with DOT.
Those concerns primarily involved proper roadway design to assure storm water drainage from the 31-acre site would not flow onto the surrounding roads.
Costco has been awarded three entrance and egress points to the site, Hamlin said, at each of three roads intersecting the site.
“I am thrilled Costco has decided to make a huge investment in Richland County,” said Richland County Councilman Seth Rose. “They are not only bringing a quality business that many citizens are excited about, but they will also employ hundreds of citizens.”
In 2013, Costco sought a $10 million financial incentive from Richland County to build a store at the Piney Grove and Fernandina roads sites, two County Council members told The State newspaper. The county was prepared to give $3 million in incentives.
Costco received no county incentives to build the store currently under construction in Richland County, officials have said. The company operates 680 warehouses worldwide including 480 in the United States.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398