Until a few weeks ago, the vacant land in Oceanside’s Oil City contained mostly mounds of dirt. But now, the Costco slated for a spot on the 13-acre parcel has begun to take shape, as residents and businesses wait to see how the big-box retailer will impact the community.
The Hempstead Town Board approved Costco’s application in 2014 to build a new 151,000-square-foot store — complete with an eight-pump gas station with storage tanks totaling 30,000 gallons as well as a tire installation garage.
Costco is a membership-only wholesale club that has more than 700 locations worldwide and, as of 2015, was the second-largest retailer in the world, behind Walmart. It will occupy the corner of Hampton Road and Daly Boulevard, which was previously used as an oil-storage facility. The application also included a special exception to operate a public garage in a 6,973-square-foot section of the facility.
Neither town officials nor Costco responded to the Herald’s questions about a potential opening date.
Maria Heller, president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, said she is optimistic that the retail giant will bring more commerce and industry into town, but added that traffic is one of her concerns. Specifically, she raised the issue of large trucks clogging the roads en route to dropping off supplies.
“It is a plus for the area, and I think it will bring more people into Oceanside, but yet it’s going to create an awful lot of traffic on Long Beach Road,” Heller said. “If we could have helicopters go down there, that would be great.”
Costco will join a few businesses hidden within the tucked-away industrial corridor, including Turf Island, an indoor sports facility, and Oil City Skatepark, which are waiting to see how the store will affect them and their customers.
The husband of Turf Island owner Alexis Bradford, who wished to remain unnamed, said the store could create increased foot traffic for the business, but added that cars coming in and out on the two-way road could congest the area.
“Am I going to be able to get to my business on time? Will my customers be able to get there?” he said. “There are a number of businesses that count on … that type of access that’s simple. If all that changes, I can imagine it’s going to be a lot of anxiety and issues.”
Rich Branciforte, who has owned what is touted as Long Island’s only indoor skatepark for the last 10 years, said Costco’s presence would clean up the area, which was previously plagued with old cars and decaying auto parts. He added that parents would have a place to shop nearby after dropping off their children for skate sessions.
“I think it’s the single best thing that could happen to that area, aside from them developing the waterfront,” Branciforte said.
Plans for Oil City were included in the area’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan — released in March 2014 — which detailed revitalization efforts in Oceanside as well as Barnum Island, Harbor Isle and the Village of Island Park.
The report, before Costco had applied to move to Oil City, called for mixed-use development in the area, with an emphasis on senior housing options. It would “create and implement a mixed-use plan to revitalize Oceanside’s industrial area along its waterfront to attract new businesses, residents and visitors,” according to the plan.
Oceanside resident Ed Scharfberg, a member of the NYRCR Planning Committee, said he and other Oceansiders would like to see Oil City be redeveloped similarly to Freeport’s Nautical Mile, which bustles with shops and restaurants. So far, plans of that sort have been halted by the state, he said.
Scharfburg added that the area has potential to be a destination in Oceanside, and that the Costco does not necessarily interfere with visions of the area outlined in the CRP. “I’m pleased something’s being done with that area,” he said.
Heller said she thinks when corporate stores moved to Oceanside in the past, they benefitted the community, citing Kohl’s, Staples, Victoria’s Secret and Bed Bath and Beyond as examples. She said Costco could hurt “mom-and-pop” stores to a degree, but added that she is confident that there are strong small businesses in Oceanside that will continue to thrive.
Costco applied for tax exemptions through the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency in June 2014, but Nassau IDA Executive Director Joseph Kearney said last week that the application was never considered.