The latest proposed project at the Chehalis Industrial Park is a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center for Costco Logistics, Port of Chehalis CEO Randy Mueller announced at the Chehalis City Council meeting on Monday evening.
Preliminary plans for the distribution center describe the building as 1.2 million square feet in the first phase and 1.5 million square feet when the project is fully built out. The Port of Chehalis owns about 35 acres of the 100-acre site and the remaining 65 acres is owned by Puget Western Inc.
If the project is completed it will be the largest building in Lewis County and the third-largest distribution center in Washington state, Mueller said. This is not a Costco retail warehouse. The logistics center fulfills online orders.
"This will be a phenomenal project for our entire community if we are successful in gaining the necessary approvals and making it happen,” Mueller said. “The living wages and excellent benefits being offered by Costco are far above median wages for the area, and will improve the lives of our residents and our community."
If all goes according to plan and the project receives the necessary approvals, construction on the Costco Logistics Center should begin in 2022. The port is anticipating the process of obtaining permits taking about a year.
The distribution center is planned to create 153 jobs at startup and should employ more than 200 by the end of the first year of operations. The port shared that the average annual salaries for the Costco employees will be about $60,640 after six years of employment with the company.
“Besides the direct benefit of those high-quality jobs, the indirect benefits of injecting $10M in annual payroll into the community will be a massive boost,” the Port of Chehalis shared in a Facebook post.
Costco consultants, lawyers and engineers have been working with the city of Chehalis and the port since this past summer. Mueller said it is encouraging to see the prospective buyer investing funds into site testing.
“It’s a done deal when they’re digging dirt and moving a building on there so hopefully there won’t be any major hiccups in the permitting process,” Chehalis Mayor Dennis Dawes said.
Another port sale that is set to close this week is with McCallum Rock Drilling buying the Habein Road industrial complex, which includes three buildings on about 10 acres, for $2.5 million. This will be the largest sale in Port of Chehalis history thus far.
McCallum Rock Drilling has already been operating in Lewis County and employs about 100 technically-skilled employees. The company plans to add 100 more jobs over the next two years.
“Those employees at McCallum, they’re making two to four times the average income of folks in Chehalis so these are not just jobs — these are great jobs,” Mueller told the council on Monday.
Since 1988, McCallum Rock Drilling has provided controlled drilling and blasting services in several states in the U.S. The kinds of jobs McCallum takes on include dam blasting, mines and road and highway projects.
“It goes back to high-quality job creation. Chehalis residents pay some money to the port and subsidize our work and they want us to improve the community. When you think about those median incomes, we’re trying to move those numbers up … That is reflected in the kinds of projects we target,” Mueller said.
With many new jobs on the horizon, the Chehalis City Council discussed the need for more housing in the area and the possibility of creating a stakeholder group with local realtors and business owners to address housing creation.
“There’s a mental block about developing in Lewis County for some damn reason. We have no impact fees, land acquisition cost is cheap, the prices are there, we have upwards of 200 jobs coming in soon — good jobs. We need housing,” Chehalis City Councilor Bob Spar said.
Mueller said that the creation of jobs could signal to developers that their investment in housing in the area would be worthwhile.
More information on the Port of Chehalis projects can be found on the port’s website at portofchehalis.com.