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Land sale paves way for Costco, new Kelley dealership

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 6:31 am

Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday approved a land sale that will pave the way for a new Kelley Chevrolet complex and Costco discount store.

Council approved the sale of about 8 acres of unused land on Lima Road, just south of the Interstate 69 interchange, to auto dealer Tom Kelley for $1.25 million, completing a puzzle that will lead to the new Costco at the site of a former Seyferts potato chip plant.

“That property has sat for a long time,” said Council President Tom Didier, R-3rd. “This is going to be a win for the city.”

Although the new Kelley property is separate from the future Costco site – a 25-acre parcel just to the southwest – the sale is important because along with the new dealership, Kelley has promised to front the cost of an access road that Costco demanded of the city.

Costco, a warehouse-style chain based in Issaquah, Wash., has demanded that the access road be completed by the beginning of August so the store can be up and running in time for the holiday shopping season, Kelley said. Without the road, Costco may delay of cancel the project, he said.

Kelley has said his dealership's move from its longtime State Boulevard location will create as many as 15 new jobs.

Justin Brugger, a program director with Fort Wayne City Utilities, said the Lima Road site's long history has been a model for cooperation between the public and private sectors.

For example, when the city dug a stormwater detention pond on about 20 acres just west of the Costco site, the site's current owner, John Menard of the Menard's home improvement chain, allowed the city to spread dirt across the property instead of paying to have it hauled away. That along helped the city save more than $1 million, Brugger said.

“It's a win-win for everyone involved,” Brugger said. “It's quintessential economic development.”

Kelley first made an offer for the site in fall 2011 but asked for several extensions of the purchase option as his company examined the site to ensure its quality, Brugger said.