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Baton Rouge council to vote on Costco deal

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Costco Wholesale could open in Baton Rouge in a year if the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council approves the creation of an economic development district on Wednesday to pay for infrastructure improvements in the area.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/10iNbhY ) the superstore is planning a $38 million capital investment into its 150,000-square-foot warehouse on Dawnadele Avenue at the former Coca-Cola bottling facility.

The city-parish and Costco have negotiated the creation of the Dawnadele Economic Development District, which would rebate $7 million of local sales taxes, plus interest, back to Costco to pay for infrastructure improvements and demolition costs.

William Daniel, chief administrative officer for Mayor-President Kip Holden, said the projects should be paid off in less than four years at an interest rate of 4.5 percent, which is estimated to bring the total city-parish price tag to $7.8 million.

"To me, it's a great deal," Daniel said. "It's an opportunity to get a really good company that, by the way, would be going somewhere else."

Costco has agreed to hire an average of 120 part-time and full-time employees, maintaining a minimum payroll of at least $3.7 million, according to the cooperative endeavor agreement.

Costco also agreed to make a "good faith effort" to hire 50 percent or more of its employees from East Baton Rouge Parish, according to the agreement.

Daniel said, on average, Costco employees are paid $23 per hour.

He also said the membership-only retailer is considered a "destination store" that draws shoppers from up to 60 miles away.

Of the $7 million sales tax rebate, $5.5 million would go toward infrastructure and road improvements in the area, and the other $1.5 million would go toward the $4.5 million cost of tearing down the building.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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