ST. LOUIS PARK, MN – Costco re-entered the Twin Cities market after a decade-long absence this month when it opened a new 140,000-sf store in St. Louis Park, MN.

The Issaquah, WA-based discount warehouse chain also is searching for other sites, and recently got approval to build one in Coon Rapids while getting turned down by Eden Prairie. While the city of Coon Rapids approved its plans for a 140,000-sf warehouse club store, Eden Prairie’s city council turned down the warehouse club, said Jim Sinegal, president and CEO of the Issaquah, WA-based chain.

Mike Franzen, a planning official with the city of Eden Prairie, said that council members, who voted 5-0 to turn down the proposal, were concerned that the project was too massive for the intended site. An approved plan submitted six years ago by Ryan Cos. would build a four-building retail center on the site, and Franzen thinks Minneapolis-based Ryan will act on that plan in the near future. “The council thought the Ryan plan was a better use of property and better relationship to surrounding properties in that area,” Franzen said.

Sinegal expects his chain will eventually open six in this market, and is looking for a site in Woodbury. On Thursday, Costco opens its St. Louis Park store, and will offer free memberships that are good through the end of the year.

Despite heavy competition from Sam’s Club, as well as the prospect of Wal-Mart Supercenters and SuperTargets entering the area, Sinegal said the Twin Cities is still a very attractive market, especially in terms of wages and household income. Sam’s Club has been adding stores to the Twin Cities, possibly in anticipation of Costco’s arrival, he said. According to Sinegal, Costco is a much better company now than the one that had pulled out of the Twin Cities a decade ago due to the strain of managing stores so far away from its base in a slow economy.

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