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Sub-Regional Center : Costco Store Set for Industry

October 19, 1986

It's not all industry in the City of Industry. It's also retail. The latest example is the $20-million Industry Hills Trade Center.

Ground breaking was held last week on the site, at the northeast corner of Gale and Azusa avenues, by the developer, G N Utman Co., based in the City of Commerce.

Industry Hills Trade Center also will have the first of many Costco wholesale clubs that are scheduled to open in Southern California. A Riverside location is due to open almost simultaneously with the Industry Hills store at the end of November. (Snyder-Langston Inc. of Irvine, Industry Hills Trade Center general contractor, expects the whole shopping center to be completed by the second quarter of 1987.)

The project is being dubbed "the largest, community shopping center complex yet to be built in the city."

It fits in the "sub-regional" shopping center category, described by The Times' marketing research department as having "one department store and not less than 200,000 square feet and usually no more than 400,000 square feet of retail area." Industry Hills Trade Center will have 218,000 square feet of space, considerably less than the 1.2 million-square-foot Puente Hills Mall, a "super-regional" shopping center opened in the City of Industry in 1974.

A New York Stock Exchange company with projected 1986 sales of more than $800 million, Costco Wholesale Corp. is headquartered in Seattle and operates 22 wholesale membership warehouses throughout the United States. With Art Wahl & Associates of Seattle representing Costco and the Hillman Group of La Canada representing G N Utman, Costco signed a lease good for at least 10 years and valued at more than $14 million for 108,000 square feet of the center in the City of Industry.

That doesn't leave much space in the center for anything else, but Costco--the anchor tenant--will offer a greater array of merchandise than most department stores, anyway. Among its offerings: large and small appliances, hardware, food, health and beauty aids, wine and beer, auto supplies, housewares, office supplies, candy and cigarettes, and clothing.

Only catch: Shoppers must be members of Costco. How to do that? Shoppers must own their own businesses or work for the government. "You know, it's something like Fedco," a spokeswoman for the developer said.

The developer is also renovating an old 197,000-square-foot industrial building on the site as a warehouse for Costco. What Costco doesn't use--an estimated 67,400 square feet--is available for lease.

Besides the retail space occupied by Costco, the center, designed by the architectural firm of McClelland/Cruz/Gaylord, Pasadena, Irvine and San Diego, will have 106,000 square feet of new retail space for other users requiring 8,000 to 30,000 square feet each and parking for more than 1,400 cars in a landscaped parking plaza entered from Gale Avenue. The general contractor is Snyder-Langston Inc., Irvine.

In a prepared statement, Thomas L. Utman, president of the development firm (G N Utman is a California partnership between Utman and Gary S. Nunnelly), said, "The City of Industry has been extremely helpful in rezoning this area to allow the rehabilitation of what once was an old industrial location into a productive environment for retail users."

Several developers, including G N Utman, provided funds to the city to improve the intersection at Gale and Azusa avenues, Utman said. His firm is also in the final stages of completing the $8-million, 93,000-square-foot Gale Technology Center across the street from the shopping center.

Reviewing reasons for his company's decision to build the shopping center, Utman observed that a population increase in the area "has begun to attract a variety of retail stores and service companies that have been searching for appropriate facilities."

In a telephone interview, Wilfred Steiner, executive director of the Industry Manufacturers Council, the equivalent of a chamber of commerce, agreed that there is "a lot of new residential development in the area, especially in Diamond Bar," which he estimated to be five to 10 miles away.

He pictured the City of Industry as "a long, narrow city surrounded by housing" and admitted that he has boasted in the past that "people can find any kind of housing they want within a bicycle ride" of town.

Little housing can be found in the city itself, because the 11-square-mile town, founded in 1957, is zoned--he likes to say--"96% industrial, 4% commercial and 0% residential." However, it has some permanent residents--by the 1980 census (giving the most recent, available figures), an estimated 664.

"They are scattered throughout town in older homes," Steiner explained. The City of Industry was originally a farming community, started by Basques.

When the town got its city charter, its image changed.

"It was to be purely an industrial complex," Steiner said. In 1957, it had 57 industries. Today it has about 1,200.

But whether they live in the area or not, industrial workers are just like residents, Utman figures, in that they all shop.

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