County Approves Costco Port St. Lucie Depot Center

The horizon of Port St. Lucie is set for a radical transformation with the county’s recent endorsement of a Costco distribution depot, a move many are calling a significant leap forward in the local efforts for economic development.

Initially dubbed “Project Everest” to maintain secrecy, the Costco Port St. Lucie development initiative marks the relocation of the company’s West Palm Beach operations to the booming landscape of Southern Grove.

Fueled by some strategic tax incentives and an incredibly forward-thinking land sale agreement, this development is set to highlight Costco’s commitment to expanding its overall footprint, while also showcasing the Port St. Lucie area as a potential hub for similar major economic ventures.

This post is going to take a close look at this next exciting new chapter for the Treasure Coast and evaluate what kind of employment, wages, and general community growth we might be able to expect from this ambitious project.

costco port st lucie

Project Overview and Background

Port St. Lucie has seen some dynamic growth in recent years, but this strategic move boldly underscores the measures that the city as well as St. Lucie County have taken to ensure the proper groundwork was laid for this development project. “Project Everest” will be a major Costco distribution depot, and is designed to take root in the Southern Grove area where it will take over operations from the West Palm Beach location.

The decision comes hot on the heels of a decisive $16 million land sale the city recently approved, and when combined with substantial tax incentives that mirror those passed by the county, the stage is set for a massive economic infusion and stage of rapid growth and development.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that “Project Everest” is more than just a single large facility. It’s a manifestation of Costco’s pivot in strategy to move from West Palm Beach to Port St. Lucie, which is a testament to the rapidly growing economic appeal of the region as a whole.

The county commissioners voted unanimously to grant tax breaks, which shows decidedly that they want to make a clear path for Costco to ramp up operations in the area, and with an initial five-year period for those tax exemptions, it created a substantial incentive for the transition.

This project is not just about relocating an existing depot but about fostering a new economic ecosystem in Port St. Lucie. The involvement of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County in leading the negotiations reinforces the collaborative effort between the city, county, and economic stakeholders to secure this major economic development project.

The decision to keep the project details confidential, as permitted by state law for significant economic initiatives, until the recent announcement, is another strong indicator of how important this is for the region.

costco shopping

With groundbreaking expected within the next six months, and completion scheduled for roughly a year after, “Project Everest” is set to be a cornerstone in the new economic landscape of Port St. Lucie, helping to build a new era of growth and prosperity.

Local Incentives & Benefits

Without a doubt, one of the biggest factors that gave Port St. Lucie a significant allure for Costco is the economic incentives that were meticulously crafted by the local government entities.

In a unanimous decision that speaks volumes about the local commitment to economic growth, both St. Lucie County and the City of Port St. Lucie have extended generous tax breaks to facilitate Costco’s establishment in the area that provides a 5-year structure for immediate financial relief and a subsequent phased reduction over the following decade. This gradual tapering, decreasing to 90% in the sixth year and eventually to 20% by the tenth year, ensures a balanced approach to supporting Costco’s initial establishment while helping to gradually integrate the company into the full local tax responsibility.

In addition to the tax exemptions, there was also a decision by the county to offer a 5-year, $2,100 grant per new employee, complemented by the city’s additional $3,500-per-new-job impact and mobility fee waiver, which shows a layered strategy for investing in job creation by both the county and the city.

Most importantly though, these aren’t just handouts or free corporate money, they are investments contingent on Costco’s fulfillment of its hiring commitments so that the benefits are tied to tangible local employment opportunities.

costco

Employment Opportunities and Wages

One of the most highly-anticipated benefits of “Project Everest” is the substantial boon for local employment it is poised to be. By creating more than 200 full-time positions in the first year alone, Costco is hoping to be setting the stage for a wave of job creation with the expansion of the project in phase two.

During this phase, and in the third and fourth years as well, there are projected to be an additional 15 positions that need to be hired, creating a significant drive for hiring over the first 5 years of operation.

With an annual average wage of more than $50k plus benefits for its depot employees, Costco is maintaining a pay average that’s more than 120% of the national average. This company-wide wage standard underscores Costco’s role as a substantially competitive employer but also reflects its contribution to raising the general wage landscape in St. Lucie County.

costco plans in stuart florida

Project Scope and Phases

This is a massive project that will cover nearly 200 acres of infrastructure to add to the Port St. Lucie shopping options that have grown in recent years. As such, it’s segmented into a two-part execution that will not only enhance the logistics and distribution capacity of Costco but also infuse the local economy with jobs and income. Here’s a look at the two phases:

Phase One

The first stage of the project constructs a 595,000-square-foot facility dedicated to both cold and dry storage. With an estimated construction cost of over $70 million, this stage is a true testament to the scale and ambition of the project. The facility itself will require about 230 employees and is projected to put about $25 million in labor income into the local economy through both direct and indirect means.

Phase Two

Phase two escalates the scale of the project with the construction of a 1.06 million square foot dry goods distribution center, further expanding operational capabilities. This phase amplifies the storage and distribution capacities but lays the groundwork for potential future expansions in the form of additional areas earmarked for future development – a 60,000-square-foot cold storage extension and a 147,500-square-foot dry storage space.

costco rendering

Wrapping Up

The approval and eventual development of the Port St. Lucie Costco distribution depot is a significant moment in the development and financial evolution of the city. The expansive project will cover nearly 200 acres and will create more than 500 jobs in the initial phases, marking a true turning point in the economic development of Port St. Lucie.

As the project takes a more physical form, its significance will reach beyond the immediate economic injections and high-wage employment. It symbolizes the transition of Port St. Lucie from a vibrant coastal burg to a dynamic hub for logistics and distribution, enhancing the appeal of the region even more to similar major corporations and skilled professionals.

In short, the success of this project will not only elevate the city’s economic landscape but also reinforce its position as a key player in the regional and national economic arena.

Justin Stewart

Justin Stewart

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