City Approves Giving Costco $3 Million to Come to Dallas

Costco is going to get its money and North Dallas is going to get its Costco. Despite an intense, hour-long debate Wednesday, the Dallas City Council approved a $3 million subsidy for the retail giant, which will now move onto what had been state-owned land on Coit Road near North Central Expressway. Costco has promised the city that it will provide 225 jobs at the location, compensated at $13 per hour or more and expects to gross $125 million a year from the location.

Council opponents of the handout, led by opposition-faction honchos Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston, argued that the city was just handing cash to business that would likely come to the city anyway.

"Every broker in town can confirm that Costco is committed to coming to Dallas. If we do not give them this $3 million, we will still get a Costco. If we pass a resolution banning Costco from the city of Dallas, we would still get a Costco. It may not be today, or it may not be tomorrow," Kingston said. "But what we know is that their primary competitor has managed to make two sites within three miles of this site work without asking for a dime."

For the city to give money to a company like Costco, Kingston argued, the expectation of consequences for not doing so has to come from more that the company "whispering in our ear and telling us [they're] going to Plano." Dallas needs to stop being insecure about whether or not companies want to come here, he said.

"The city of Dallas is a draw, it's an absolute draw for a retailer like this. They aren't going to want to be locked out of a city this size," he said.

Tiffinni Young, who represents a portion of South Dallas, joined Griggs and Kingston in opposing the payout. She pointed to the recent death of Antoinette Brown, the woman mauled to death by a pack of wild dogs last week, and the lack of grocery stores south of Interstate 30 as proof that the city's priorities are out of whack.

“We have a problem where we can’t pick up dogs, but we’re giving out money,” Young said echoing a point Kingston had driven home earlier.

"Let's just say it. We could fund animal services to a level that keeps people from being eaten by dogs [with $3 million]," he said.

Those fighting for the deal, fronted by Lee Kleinman, the council member into whose district Costco will parachute, said that the retailer would not build on the Coit Road site without the cash. Rickey Callahan said that luring the big-box store to Dallas was a "grand opportunity."

The council voted to take the opportunity 10-5, but did give southern Dallas a glimmer of hope, thanks to council member Mark Clayton. Clayton, who usually works with Griggs and Kingston but voted for the Costco, amended the agreement with the retailer to require the city of Dallas' Office of Economic Development to come back to the council in 90 days with plans to lure a grocer to one of the city's many food deserts. 
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young