COSTCO ALTERS MANHATTAN PLANS

ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Costco Corp. here said last week that it has abandoned plans for two of its three proposed units in Manhattan in New York City, both of which would have premiered its new, urban-focused Costco Fresh format.Meanwhile, the start of construction on the sole store still scheduled to be built -- which will be part of a large retail complex in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood -- has

ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Costco Corp. here said last week that it has abandoned plans for two of its three proposed units in Manhattan in New York City, both of which would have premiered its new, urban-focused Costco Fresh format.

Meanwhile, the start of construction on the sole store still scheduled to be built -- which will be part of a large retail complex in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood -- has been postponed while the developer searches for new financing for the complex indoor parking lot, Jeff Brotman, Costco chairman, told SN.

According to Brotman, Costco has sold the properties on 23rd and 55th streets, where it had originally planned to build two stores which would have featured the new Costco Fresh format, offering only food and sundry items -- and not the clothing, appliances and general merchandise the company's stores usually offer.

The company had also said the Costco Fresh stores would have been half the size of its typical 148,000-square-foot units.

Although there had reportedly been much community opposition to the stores, mostly objecting to the units' potential to worsen traffic patterns in already congested parts of the city, Brotman said the stores will not be built because of "escalating construction and real estate costs."

He added that the Costco Fresh format has been "put on hold but not abandoned" and could be tried in another urban setting.

As for the East Harlem unit, Brotman said construction would begin as soon as the developer clears "some hurdles in financing the parking garage."