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Costco: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Ron weighs in on the upcoming construction of Costco on Route 1.

Let me clarify, once and for all, that yes, in a few months, construction will begin on a new Costco at the site currently occupied by the former Mount Vernon Cinema, otherwise known as the “Gooey-Plex.”  You remember the MV Cinema, don’t ya?  That’s the one where a where a grand opening for an Oscar-winning movie might attract a Brownie troop and a few senior citizens looking to take advantage of their AARP discount cards.    

For years, as the rumors were flying that the Cinema would soon be closing, there were a lot of behind the scenes discussions going on about who might be interested in taking over the property.  There was talk about a new Wegmans, but they ultimately decided to locate at the corner of Telegraph Road and Beulah over in Springfield. Then, our old buddies at WalMart expressed interest in expanding their current store to that site, which would make it a Double-Super-Duper WalMart. Then, we heard that there was some talk about a residential complex or a town center, but those ideas just never panned out.

And now we’re stuck with Costco — another box store. 

Of course, when I say “stuck” it means that I am, at the best, very ambivalent about a new Costco. Personally, I enjoy (“enjoy” might not be the exact word I’m looking for) shopping at Costco once I’m inside. I appreciate the cheap prices, good vegetables, the salmon, and the cheap golf balls to replace the ones that are at the bottom of the pond in front of the 16th hole at the Mount Vernon Country Club.  And, if the entire Seventh Fleet is coming over for lunch, I can get a lot of mayonnaise for a great price.    

On the other hand, here comes more traffic, folks!  You all know what that area is like on a regular Saturday afternoon. Now, double it. Imagine all of those people coming from the south trying to make a left hand turn into the parking lot. Patrons sitting in the booths at Elsie's, nibbling on the special of the day (“Macaroni and Cheese sandwich for $2.99!") will get a great view of the gridlock.      

Our local Supervisors, Gerry Hyland and Jeff McKay (the property is technically in Jeff’s district) are not thrilled with this development. They both would have preferred something a little more upscale than another box store. But they were getting barraged from constituents who grew weary of watching the theater fall further into disrepair and there weren’t many other options on the table. So, it was a Hobson’s Choice for them. (Finally - I’ve always wanted to use the term “Hobson’s Choice” in a column!)  

So, if you need to buy enough cans of pork and beans to recreate the campfire scene in “Blazing Saddles,” Costco is your place!  If your hubby needs another 13 flannel shirts to wear during the playoff games, hurry on down to Costco! And, if you are already sick and tired of the parking lot that is Route One, buck up. 

It’s gonna get worse.      

Wildermann January 25, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The traffic you speak of is on the road as it is, since Costco members have to drive either to Newington or Pentagon City. I like the idea of spending a little less time in the car and less on gas by having a closer Costco. Costco is not necessarily cheaper than their competitors. It is true that some items are great deals while others can cost more than at their competitors. Technology gives consumers advantages to comparison shop and create shopping lists with the best bargains before venturing out and about and wasting precious fossil fuel resources while in search of some savings. The nice thing about Costco is their reputation as an employer that pays decent wages and provides a wider range of benefits to their employees than say Walmart.
Mike Smith January 25, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Haha Ron, so true. :)
m.tracy January 25, 2012 at 11:51 PM
costco isn't quite the threat that some would have us believe. 143,000 sf of building on 12 acres is not very dense development, and there's plenty of space for entrances and exits for parking . . (compare to the heights at groveton, 360,000 square feet of office, retail, and housing, plus 500 parking spaces, on less than 4 acres, all jammed up on rte 1.. ) people should be cautious about "mixed use" development. it sounds poiitically correct, but few people realize the tradeoff is increasing the density so developers can make big profits. someone should simply put a stop to this headlong rush to development until rte 1congestion problems are resolved..
William T. January 27, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I see no problem with "them" building a costco where the ghetto-plex used to be. I highly doubt traffic would be anymore worse than it already is on that stretch of Route 1 (damn the long light by Wal-mart!). With that being said, I would like to see something a little more up-scale put in that area. However, I seem to recall one of the reasons why the multiplex was shut down in the first place, was due to all the crime around it.
Linda February 28, 2012 at 07:15 PM
We need more shops (better) in the Sacramento Center too also whats happening with the closed Bottom Dollar we could use a Giant down here Mr.McKay are you listening!!!!

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