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Retailer no longer certain
Owners: Company has nixed land deal
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Forsyth County News

It appears plans for a new retail facility in Cumming may have hit a snag.

The owners of property slated to be the site of a new Costco store issued a statement Wednesday night indicating the project had been canceled.

According to Emory Lipscomb and Jim Butler, Costco attorneys gave them notice “they were terminating the purchase agreement Costco had signed to buy land on Bald Ridge [Marina Road] and Ga. 400.”

However, Cumming Administrator Gerald Blackburn said Thursday that no one at the city had received any official word the project had been canceled.

“The city has not been contacted by Costco and the only thing as far as the owners of the property … they have not notified us one way or the other,” he said. “We had got information that … the property owners and Costco were going through some discussions on it and they had apparently stopped their work on [the site].”

Phone messages and e-mails to Costco representatives seeking comment were not returned.

James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, which is involved in recruiting new business and industry to the area, declined to comment on the matter citing the confidentiality of negotiations.

The store, which is slated to be about 148,000 square feet with more than 650 parking spaces, was set for the intersection of Market Place Boulevard and Bald Ridge near Exit 15.

Lipscomb, who is a local attorney, was out of town Thursday and could not be reached for further comment on the matter. In the statement, he said he and Butler chose to turn down Costco’s proposal.

“Costco’s lawyers kept trying to change the terms of the contract,” he said. “We were rolling along, had equipment doing the work, but finally had to say ‘no’ to their attempts to change the deal they made.”

Butler, who’s also an attorney, said in the statement that the men were “ready to build the site and Costco would have been a great addition to Cumming.”

In May, city leaders approved a conditional use permit for Costco that would allow it to sell alcohol by the package.

In addition, the city also awarded two bids for utility projects needed to support the facility.

Those included a 12-inch water line along Market Place Boulevard for about $734,000 and a force main gravity sewer system along Bald Ridge at a cost of more than $1.6 million.

In May, Scott Morgan, director of the city’s planning and zoning department, said “clearing and grubbing” had begun at the site, and that Costco representatives were planning to open the store around Thanksgiving.

The project also involved some road improvements, such as additional turn lanes on Bald Ridge and a continuation of Market Place at the current red light into the store’s parking lot.

Regardless of whether the Costco project moves forward, Blackburn said the water and sewer improvements near the site would likely continue.

“They will need to be there for future development anyhow, so we will continue with those,” Blackburn said. “At least, that will be what I would expect to happen.

“We may downsize some of them, but we do have contracts out there and I expect the city would go ahead and honor those contracts because … the designs where done to handle that whole basin, not just Costco. Of course, Costco was a big part of it, there’s no question about that.”