Fate of new Costco, shopping center in south Salem stirs up controversy

Residents filled every seat at Salem's City Council meeting Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 to voice their concerns about a Costco going into their neighborhood. (KATU Photo)

It started out as a promise, but what the promise was is now up for interpretation.

A plot of land on Kuebler Boulevard was approved for a community shopping center in 2007. City Council approved the plans for a Costco this October.

PacTrust, the developer, says Costco meets all the criteria for a shopping center. It will be the anchor tenant at the center, drawing in other smaller businesses. PacTrust doesn't want to build another Costco, it wants to move the existing one on Hawthorne Avenue to Kuebler, expand it and add a 30-pump fueling station.

Developers will have to chop down eight Oregon White Oaks, which are considered significant, to build the Costco. The area is mostly residential, and neighbors are afraid it will draw more traffic into the area.

"When I think community shopping center, maybe, 'Yay, they're going to put in a Whole Foods,' or 'Yay, they're going to put something really beneficial to the people and the community here,' and that's not Costco," said Kristene Mayer who lives in the neighborhood.

Neighbors filled every seat at Monday night’s City Council meeting to voice their concerns.

Some say big box stores don’t belong in neighborhoods.

"The traffic impact will be horrendous," said Kathryn Chambers, who lives nearby.

Those in favor of it say that’s part of growth.

"You buy a house, you see vacant land, you go to the city and you say, 'What's going to be built there? Oh, a shopping center.' It shouldn’t be a surprise," said Roger Harris, who also lives nearby.

PacTrust said at the public hearing that they’ve studied the area and traffic won’t be an issue. They plan on modifying and adding new traffic signals to congested intersections.

Some neighbors argue they haven’t seen the actual data and worry their concerns aren’t being taken seriously.

"We are fighting the David and Goliath fight, but I think everyone is going to do the best they can to oppose it," said Chambers.

Neighbors in favor of the Costco say they want to see economic growth in their part of town.

"I'm not here to make any enemies, I just want shopping to be closer to us, and I think this is a good place for it," said Harris.

As far as why Costco wants the store to move, the company did not return our request for comment.

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