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VANCOUVER, WA-Legacy Health System, looking for the right spot to develop a $170-million hospital, has optioned the site for which Costco Wholesale recently was unable to gain approval for one of its warehouse stores. At 24 acres, the site is 11 acres larger than Legacy’s existing proposed development site, and therefore able to accommodate more growth in the future.

Legacy now has about 45 days to acquire the site, located at near the intersection of Northeast 20th Avenue and 139th Street as an alternate location to a site it already owns on 134th Street, about one mile away from the Costco site.

Legacy applied with the state last spring to build a new hospital in the Salmon Creek area. The application is being reviewed by the state’s Certificate of Need Program. Approval or denial is expected sometime in January.A couple of months ago, Costco Wholesale Corp. saw its application to build a 148,000-sf store on the aforementioned property because of the traffic problems it would create. Costco has appealed the decision to a county hearings examiner.

County planners denied the proposal in large part because the traffic it would generate would slow traffic to 18 mph at peak hours, which is four miles per hour slower than the county’s minimum acceptable speed. Costco disputes the figures, and estimates 60% fewer peak vehicle trips than the county is estimating.

Costco offered up $1 million in roadway improvements — including new turn lanes and signals at several key intersections — but county planners said it wouldn’t solve the problem. Regardless, until there is capacity, Costco believes it should be able to hold its place in line, and the appeal will do that, at least for a little while.

The want to hold its place in line stems from a proposal by Legacy Health Systems to build a 220-bed hospital in the Salmon Creek area. Legacy also must meet the same traffic requirements, but would probably generate fewer peak hour trips and, therefore, might not slow traffic too much. If that project is approved outright, Costco would have to wait even longer for speeds in the area to improve before it could build — or spend a lot more than $1 million on traffic improvements.

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