Costco Warehouse Corp. of Issaquah, Washington, has filed an application with the city of Little Rock to put a 165,000-SF warehouse store at the southwest corner of Chenal Parkway and Kirk Road.
It would be the retailer’s first store in Arkansas. According to the application obtained by Arkansas Business news partner THV 11 News, the publicly traded retailer has its eyes on 32-acre site that’s now vacant. It seeks approval for a planned commercial district, along with a subdivision and a petition for abandonment.
THV 11 reports the application will go before city planners on May 14.
According to the application, the retailer plans a “member’s only retail warehouse” with a 5,300-SF tire center, a 635-SF optical exam center and a 3,800-SF space for liquor sales, should the company obtain a permit. It would also operate a detached gas station with 24 fueling positions, according to the permit.
It would employ between 200 and 250 full- and part-time workers.
More: See the full Costco application here.
The property is owned by KRS Parcel 8 LLC, led by Seaborn Bell, CFO and trustee of Whisenhunt Investments LLC. Whisenhunt Investments is led by Joe Whisenhunt Jr.
Michael Clark of Winkelmann & Associates in Dallas is listed on the application as the project’s engineer.
In a statement to Arkansas Business, Costco said it’s company policy to not comment about future stores until we it’s ready to share details about the new location, “usually 2-3 months in advance.”
“It obviously is more exciting news for the metro Little Rock market,” said Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. “When you have the opportunity to have a national retailer decide to invest this much money in the market, enjoying our community and growing our economy, it’s a great day … I think it’s additional validation of this market and its growth potential.”
Chesshir said companies like this spend a lot of time conducting due diligence, making the project “years in the making.”
Costco (Nasdaq: COST) has long sought a Little Rock location. Arkansas Business reported in 2017 that the retailer considered a midtown location at the northwest corner of Interstate 630 and University Avenue — the site of the old Sears store — but found it too expensive. The company had also looked at other places in west Little Rock.
Like Trader Joe’s, another retail Holy Grail for Arkansas, Costco enjoys a passionate customer base. The company’s history dates to 1976.
Costco has been a rival to Walmart Inc.’s Sam’s Club warehouse stores. In 1983, Costco merged with another rival, Price Club, after turning down “a feeler” from Walmart founder Sam Walton, according to Fortune magazine.
Costco operates 787 warehouses, including 547 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It reported nearly $153 billion in 2019 revenue. Arkansas is one of only five states where the retailer doesn’t have a store.