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Site preparation is underway on the site for a fueling station even though a suit is pending; initial construction of the 45-acre site for Costco Wholesale and other businesses began recently. Photo by JACK WEATHERLY

Work underway on Costco station while suit is pending

By JACK WEATHERLY

The question: will Costco Wholesale proceed with construction of the 150,000-square-foot store in Ridgeland without building a fueling station?

The city of Ridgeland has now gotten court clearance to build the so-called “third phase” of the Renaissance Colony Parkway mall, which would be anchored by Costco.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled 7-0 in April 2017 in a case brought by homeowners that contended that the city had acted illegally in rezoning the 45-acre third-phase site to allow a fueling station on that land.

The city resubmitted the plan without a station. The city approved it and work began on the site a month ago, on Sept. 16.

But Costco still does not have legal clearance to build the fueling station, with its fate pending in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Yet that has not stopped the work from being carried out on the smaller site, about 2 acres of a 9.5-acre plot across from the 45-acre site on Highland Colony Parkway. It’s the so-called Phase 4 of Renaissance at Colony Parkway.

Dirt work is well underway for the station.

“We feel that we’re in the right,” said Erich Brann, director of real estate for Costco in the southeastern United States.

Brann said in a phone interview that the fueling stations have evolved in the history of Costco.

Not too many years ago, the Issaquah, Wash.-based chain felt that not having the stations was “not a deal killer,” Brann said.

Then Costco realized how valuable they are in attracting people to the store, Brann said. They “definitely draw business to the warehouse.”

The smaller piece of property is zoned C-3, “which is the appropriate zoning for a gas station,” he said.

Homeowners – who have opposed the Costco Wholesale site since 2015, with its traffic and alleged disruption of the residential fabric — argued that the city once again had wrongly decided to accommodate Costco and Colony Park Phase 3 LLC, headed by Jackson developer Andrew Mattiace.

Madison County Circuit Court Judge Steve Ratcliff ruled in favor of the city of Ridgeland in its approval of the site for a gas station.

The homeowners’ suit argues that “a private Costco Club fueling station is not a public retail facility” and therefore not in accordance with the city ordinance.

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About Jack Weatherly