Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) aims to open its first location in Maine at the Downs, bringing the company’s membership warehouse concept to the growing development in Scarborough.
The Issaquah, Wash.-based retailer has submitted its proposal to the town of Scarborough and the project will get a sketch-plan review at a Jan. 31 Planning Board meeting. Costco wants to open a 161,000-square-foot retail warehouse with a separate gas station, according to documents filed with the town.
“There’s something special about the spot if a national retailer like Costco chooses the Downs. It helps the prominence of the project. If that site is good enough for Costco, other retailers will have confidence to follow suit. It’s a positive thing,” Scarborough town manager Tom Hall told Mainebiz.
The store, if approved, would be at the intersection of Payne Road and Scarborough Downs Road.
“It’s going on a site that was always designated as large retail,” Hall said. “Having it located near Exit 42 minimizes the impact on local traffic. Costco is a destination store. Local folks will enjoy it but people will travel to it. Folks will be able to come in and enjoy the Downs or just go to Costco if they need to.”
Costco declined to comment, saying it only confirms new locations within two to three months of their opening. The retailer currently operates 828 warehouses, including 572 in the United States.
At least for now, Maine is one of only four states where Costco does not have locations. The others are Wyoming, West Virginia and Rhode Island. The closest locations are in Nashua, N.H., and Danvers, Mass., according to the Costco website.
Costco’s premise is to offer memberships that offer access to low prices on a limited selection of nationally branded and private-label products. The company specializes in high sales volume and rapid inventory turnover.
“This is exciting. I know they’re a good employer and do things right,” said Curtis Picard, president and CEO of the Maine Retail Association. “Maine already has a BJ’s and Sam’s Club, so this will be another option for shoppers. But it tends to be a destination store.”
Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT), operates three locations in Maine — in Augusta, in Bangor and on Payne Road in Scarborough, less than 2 miles from the Downs. BJ’s Wholesale Club Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BJ) has stores in Auburn, Bangor and Portland.
At the Downs, Costco is proposing to create 794 parking spaces, as well as access driveways, loading areas, landscaping and lighting, pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks, utility connections and an above-ground stormwater management basin. In addition to access from Payne and Scarborough Downs Roads, an entrance on Innovation Way is proposed, according to the proposal.
The Downs encompasses the former site of Scarborough Downs, where horse racing ended in November 2020. Crossroads Holdings LLC paid $6.7 million to turn the 525 acres into a mixed-use development that continues to be built out.