Sunday, September 17, 2006

Alas, Poor Costco

Over the past ten years the Alliance has had its run-ins with Costco, and the box retailer has not enjoyed the results of those encounters. Efforts to build stores in Chelsea and Hells Kitchen ran aground because of the coalition of opposition that the Alliance had put together with elected officials such as Tom Duane, Chris Quinn and Dick Gottfried.

Not it appears that the site that held the most promise for the retailer, the East River Plaza development on 116th Street and the Harlem River Drive, will no longer be available since the developers have struck a better deal with Target. Que Lastima!

What's particularly interesting about this turn of events is the public pique exhibited by Costco chairman Jeff Broutman. As he tells the NY Times this morning, he took a call last month from Bruce Ratner and Edmund Blumenfeld, and was told that he was being replaced; "I was really angry," Mr. Broutman said. "From Bruce I didn't expect it."

One of the stumbling blocks for Costco was the fact that the city had asked the developers to strengthen the structures in order to support future housing. Another, not reported in the story, was the opposition of a number of unions in the food business who made their concerns known to the Ratner people. All things being equal, and they might not have been in this case, the developers had an extra incentive to look to another retailer.

Broutman appears undeterred, however, and expresses continued interest in finding another Manhattan location. We guess we'll meet again, who knows where, who knows when?