Costco will move a store to the Mall of the Americas from a nearby shopping center after receiving approval from the Westchester Community Council Tuesday night.
The application was approved with a 4-0 vote, and developers said the store should be open by November 2014 at its new location, 7795 W. Flagler Street.
Council members expressed some concerns over the entrance to the adjoining gas station that will be placed in the mall’s parking lot and how builders will deal with parking spaces in the new location.
The gas station will have a one-way entrance from a right-turn only lane on Northwest 79th Avenue; from the entrance the path wraps around to an exit back on to the street. Community Councilman Manuel Valdes said he thinks drivers travelling southbound on 79th Avenue may be tempted to cut across traffic to enter the new gas station or turn right into the exit when heading north and create potential traffic issues.
“Once the gas station is open and functional they may want to cut in,” Valdes said. “Make a right turn and you’re in, you save yourself a lot of driving.”
But the developer said that in that situation the maneuver would be illegal and they hope to direct drivers with signage indicating where to enter and exit the station.
Miami-Dade County planners also indicated in a memo that the construction must include a new traffic light at Northwest 79th Avenue and the driveway north of the gas station that leads into the mall.
Councilman Julio Caceres said that when visiting the current Costco site, 8300 Park Blvd., he noticed that about 51 parking spaces were taken up by abandoned shopping carts. Developers indicated that the new store’s space at the mall will have about 600 parking spaces compared to about 500 at the current location.
They did not comment on how they would mitigate the issue of patrons leaving shopping carts in the wrong spot, but said they don’t believe it would be an issue.
“I do think there’s going to be a little bit of an issue, because you have a Home Depot right across from it,” said Caceres.
The retailer will tear down the AMC 14 movie theaters and modify adjoining areas of the mall, to make way for the wholesale club store. The current Costco will operate normally until construction is completed, then the current staff will move to the new location. Store manager Francisco Morales said it will be up to corporate to determine any additional hires.
“It’s a great benefit for the community and for Costco,” Morales said. “The mall needed a power store and it’s going to bring a lot of traffic.”