After nearly two years of negotiating with homeowners in a nearby subdivision, Costco will build a $45.8 million store on Pinnacle Parkway near Covington, according to Chris Masingill, CEO of St. Tammany Parish’s economic development agency.
The 159,000-square-foot store will be the first Costco in St. Tammany Parish. New Orleans also has a Costco store.
It’s not yet clear when the Fortune 500 company, based in Issaquah, Washington, will break ground on the site, which is a little less than 12 acres. Construction from the time of ground-breaking typically takes Costco six months, Masingill said.
The store will be located next to a 13-acre site that was purchased in in 2021 by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, Our Lady of the Lake, for a yet-to-be-built medical clinic.
Busy I-12 corridor
The Costco will also join a busy stretch off Interstate 12 in fast-growing western St. Tammany Parish. Several stores, including Kohl’s and Academy Sports and Outdoors are in the nearby shopping development. And on the other side of I-12 sits a Sam’s Club and the River Chase shopping area.
I-12 is being widened through the area to help accommodate the heavy traffic.
The new Costco will bring 75 full-time jobs with an average salary of just over $59,000 and 75 part-time jobs, according to a news release from St. Tammany Corporation, the parish economic agency. It is expected to generate $60 million in new sales and property taxes over the next decade, according to the news release.
Costo stores draw customers from a 60-mile radius, and have 30% to 40% more unique visitors than other retailers, the release said.
“We are elated to announce that one of our nation’s leading companies, Costco, is investing in St. Tammany Parish and will be opening a store in the Covington area,” St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper said in a prepared statement. “Costco is a company that aligns with our parish’s values, in providing a family-first atmosphere, where employees thrive and customers are welcomed.”
Costco has had St. Tammany on its radar for at least a decade, Masingill said, but began the site selection process in earnest about two years ago. Their choice, in the Nord du Lac commerce park near I-12 and Louisiana 21, presented some hurdles, however.
In 2006, a group of residents calling themselves Smart Growth had sued the parish and Colonial Properties Trust, which then owned the property, to prevent a Sam’s Club from being built in what had been pitched as an upscale shopping center.
Under the terms of a settlement agreement, restrictive covenants were put in place that banned big-box warehouse stores larger than 100,000 square feet for 50 years unless 51% of the 361 lot owners in nearby Flower Estates agreed to it.
Nancy Wagner, former president of Flower Estates Civic Association, said that those who supported the project recognized that it was in the best interest of the neighborhood and worked tirelessly to get the needed signatures. That occurred months ago, she said.
But 47 commercial properties were also in the area covered by the restrictions, and all of them had to agree to amend the covenants as well, according to attorney Jeff Schoen, who represents the current property owner, Brookfield Properties.
The project could not have gone forward without the efforts of Wagner and Debra Hebert, current president of the homeowner group, Schoen said.
During talks in 2021, Brookfield Properties and Costco agreed to build an 8-foot sound barrier wall between Costco and Begonia Drive. Wagner said that the company also agreed to move loading bays to the front of the store and will make some aesthetic changes to the outside appearance.
Masingill praised the leaders of Flower Estates Civic Association, Brookfield Properties and parish government for helping to make the project possible.
“This significant investment in St. Tammany Parish is also a great example of what happens when economic development, local government, and civic and community leaders work together to ensure the overall success of a project,” he said.