Westchase community has mixed feelings about plans for a new Costco store

Traffic and appearance are the big concerns

TAMPA, Fla. - A Bay area community has mixed feelings about a warehouse store opening on an already congested intersection. A developer has announced plans to build a Costco store right outside the entrance to Westchase. It will affect thousands in one way or another.

For Lorna Stewart, owner of a modest house that sits within the footprint of the proposed project, it's a bittersweet tradeoff.

Stewart, 79, reluctantly sold her home to the developer and plans to move to Pennsylvania.  

"It's the most gorgeous house I've ever seen," she said of the 1800 square foot home she's kept since 1994. "And they're probably going to tear it down. That's the heartbreaking part."

But Lorna Stewart will be well compensated. For the house she paid $86,000 for, that is worth $192,000 according to Zillow, Stewart says she was offered over $620,000. She's going to take it.

"Because my Realtor said if I did not sign and sell, when Costco comes in here and starts to build, my house will be worth nothing," said Stewart.
 
Meanwhile, across the street from the proposed Costco, Westchase residents wonder how a popular big box store on the already traffic clogged entrance of their community will affect their quality of life.

"Any traffic that is added to this intersection is going to cause more problems because I believe it's already at limit," said Joaquin Arrillaga, head of the Westchase committee. He's having discussions with the out of state developers.

Arrillaga says the developers have been receptive to their concerns, so the Westchase board  hasn't come out against it yet.  

Costco is known for it's progressive labor practices that provide health care to most employees and pays an average salary of $21 an hour company wide.

While Lorna Stewart plans to move to Pennsylvania with her windfall, regular commuters and Westchase residents may have to adjust to a much bigger and noisier neighbor than they have now.
 
Arrillaga say an extension of nearby Citrus Park Road could divert a lot of traffic away from that Costco location. But the Hillsborough County Commission will eventually  have a say in whether Costco gets approved or not.

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