By Rosemary K. Otzman
Representatives of Van Buren Township have been meeting with the State of Michigan, Wayne County, and Vantageport (Aerotropolis) to get Costco Wholesale to choose VBT as the location for its tenth depot in the nation.
Costco now plans a 347,720-square-foot building on a 71.56-acre site at the Canton Township border on the west side of Belleville Road, north of Van Born.
And, it is requesting a 50% tax abatement on its real property for eight years, which totals a $393,152 abatement, and 50% on its personal property for eight years, which totals $24,208.53.
Costco’s building will not be a store or a warehouse, but a distribution facility where 200 trucks per day will enter, load up, and leave, with 95% in and out the same day, according to Peter Kahn, Assistant Vice President of Real Estate for Costco.
He said the operation would run from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., with most of the trucks in and out before noon. By 3 p.m. there is no activity, he said.
Kahn was present for the April 14 work/study session of the VBT board of trustees when the project was discussed.
The new depot will include a dry depot, wet depot, office, engine room/electrical room, and guard booth. There will be lots of loading docks.
He said typically Costco likes to build from the ground up, noting their depot people are “a persnickety group.”
That’s the answer Kahn gave when Trustee Phil Hart asked if there wasn’t an existing vacant facility in the township that they could use.
He said the jobs will include nine management/professionals at a $80,600 salary (these will be employees from other facilities so they are experienced); eight clerical/service at a $42,600 salary; 73 operators at a $42,600 salary; and 20 laborers at a $31,200 salary.
When it’s time to hire they will open an office on site, put up a sign, pass out applications, and hold interviews, he said.
Off-site improvements will include a new traffic signal, improvements to Belleville Road, and a new access driveway and sidewalk.
The project requires a rezoning from M-1 (Light Industrial) to M-2 (General Industrial) and that was the topic of the public hearing to be held April 23 before the planning commission.
Costco is working with Wayne County about adding a traffic light at the intersection of Belleville Road and its entrance road.
Costco also has a request before the board of trustees for Real and Personal Property Tax Abatements.
The tax abatement issue is scheduled to be on the agenda of the May 6 township board meeting.
Costco plans to invest $40 million in real property and $4.088 million in personal property for a total of more than $44 million.
It is asking to set up an Industrial Development District and for an eight-year tax abatement of 50% on the real and personal property tax to the township.
VBT Assessor Linda Stevenson said the estimated township tax on the real property each year would be $98,288 and times eight years equals $786,304. Half of that is $393,152.
Stevenson said the personal property tax may go away altogether in 2016 if the voters pass the state ballot proposal in August.
Supervisor Linda Combs said the Costco representative wanted changes to the tax abatement agreement and the paperwork was sent on to township attorney Patrick McCauley.
McCauley told the board he’s talked to the Costco attorney and he will bring the changes to the board. He said the township’s standard agreement has wording that allows for changes.
“It’s untypical to change [the agreement] … with the exception of Visteon,” said Trustee Phil Hart.
McCauley outlined the requested changes having to do with what taxes Costco has to pay if they vacate, audit changes, and state tax appeals.
“We usually don’t do audits, especially since personal property taxes are leaving,” said Combs. “We put it [the provisions] in to protect us and never had to use it…”
Kahn said they want to start construction this summer and open next spring. He said it takes them 6-8 months and, “We’re pretty quick.”
He said the construction managers will be from Chicago and they will go out for bids from local contractors.
By Rosemary K. Otzman