The early plan for Costco at Scarborough, with Payne Road at the left in the drawing and Scarborough Downs Road at the bottom. The store entrance is located at the bottom left of the building, Contributed / Scarborough Planning Board

The Scarborough Planning Board got its first look Monday at Costco’s plans for a store at The Downs development and said it could set an example for retailers looking to build in town in the future.

“This is going to be one of those anchor lots,” said Vice Chairperson Rick Meinking. “You’re going to set the bar.”

While pleased with the overall initial plan for the 161,000-square-foot store at the corner of Payne and Scarborough Downs roads, the board had some concerns over the direction the building would face and the size of the proposed parking lot.

The Scarborough store would be the first in Maine for Costco Wholesale, which operates 828 membership big-box retail stores worldwide, 572 of which are in the United States and Puerto Rico with 16 in New England. It averages 275 full- and part-time employees per store at a starting wage of $17 per hour, a company spokesman said at Monday’s meeting.

With merchandise ranging from brand-name appliances to computers, jewelry and groceries in bulk, the company posted net sales of $192 billion in and net income of $5 billion for the 2021 fiscal year, according to its annual report. Memberships, for $60 annually, give those customers lower prices on various products. A popular shopping destination, it had 113.1 million memberships worldwide as of December, according to Forbes.

As proposed, the Scarborough store is set back on the lot, with the main entrance separated from Payne and Scarborough Downs roads by the parking lot.


Chairperson Rachel Hendrickson asked Costco to come up with some alternative designs with the store closer to the front of the site in order to meet the town’s commercial design standards.

“One of those standards is a relationship to the street,” Chairperson Rachel Hendrickson said. “You’ve given us a good reason why you’ve chosen to site the building to the back. I haven’t heard a good reason not to site it to the front so it’s facing the street.”

A civil engineer representing Costco at the meeting said the plans call for the store facing away from the street so the entrance can be more easily accessible from all parts of the parking lot.

“(Costco) wants to try and get as many parking spaces surrounding that front entrance (as possible),” said Michelle Carlson. “That’s why they’re typically laid out like this; so that you’re getting the mass of parking in front of the building.”

Hendrickson said she still wanted to see other options.

“It’s possible that after we see the alternatives we say, ‘Yep, you were right the first time,'” she said.


The planned parking lot has 794 parking spaces that are slightly larger than typical parking spaces.

“There’s bulk items that are coming out of Costco,” Carlson said. “People have bigger carts, bigger carriages … the wider and deeper (parking spaces) give them safe ways to unload their products into their cars.”

Board members asked if Costco could either do with less parking spaces or consider shrinking them to the standard size, questioning whether the large lot would ever reach the capacity and citing environmental concerns.

“It sounds like we’re going to be taking a very hard look at parking,” Hendrickson said. “We’ve learned from other big box stores the effect that amount of asphalt has … we’ve had some problems with downstream effects from big box stores, so that has made us really concerned about parking and about the extent of parking.”

Sustainability was another topic raised by the board, specifically as it pertains to the gas station proposed along with the store.

“I would encourage you to consider what we’re going to do about the new vehicles that are coming into our lives,” said Meinking, suggesting that the developers look into implementing electric-car recharging stations.

Board members also requested a deeper look into landscaping and how that could potentially “screen” the fueling station from the road.

A final plan and application are expected to be submitted in the coming months.


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