Costco has the OK to become one of the largest single-tenant buildings in Bozeman. But city leaders said before that happens, the store must fix its gateway intersection’s traffic issues — something the retail giant isn’t too happy about.

The store plans to expand by 24,000 square feet — pushing its size to 150,000.

Peter Kahn, vice president of real estate development at Costco, said the jump will allow the store to up its retail for its 35,000 Bozeman members and create 35 to 45 new jobs. He said the store’s average wage is $26 an hour plus benefits, but didn’t say whether that was a national average or local, or how that varies across job categories.

The Bozeman City Commission approved the plans on Monday, but with a catch — the store has to lead the way in fixing the crowded roads leading to the grounds of bulk goods.

During peak hours, roughly 1,000 vehicles head toward Costco within an hour. Shawn Kohtz, an engineer with the city, said that’s according to a July 2017 traffic study.

“To put that in perspective, that’s one of the largest single traffic generators in the city,” Kohtz said.

The main entrance to the building — the intersection of Max Avenue and Catron Street — is overburdened.

Costco’s expansion plans include completing the south half of Catamount Street along the north boundary of the project to create another access point and release some pressure on the intersection.

Director of Public Works Craig Woolard said that’s unlikely to fix the problem.

“That intersection, which is a hazard now, will continue to be a hazard even with a new entrance,” Woolard said. “[The city] has fixed many failing intersections, what we don’t have is unlimited funds to do it.”

Woolard said there are ways to help remove some of the weight from Costco, like creating a payback district or a special improvement district.

Kahn called the city’s ask an “excessive burden” and said Costco shouldn’t have to foot the bill for Bozeman’s growth.

“In 1997 when we opened, we were the only thing out there and there’s been an incredible amount of development around us and nothing that’s gone into correcting the infrastructure,” he said.

Kahn said the cost of the project, initially planned at $15 million, is now estimated at $17 million.

Commissioners Jeff Krauss and I-Ho Pomeroy agreed with Kahn, saying the intersection was known as a failure and the city hadn’t done anything to fix it.

Mayor Cyndy Andrus said while some of the intersection’s failures fall to the city, the area’s main driver is Costco. She added that Monday’s decision is a reflection of Bozeman’s need for help from its private sector.

Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl said Bozeman’s hike in population and construction costs have outstripped the city’s ability to keep up. He said Costco had two options.

“Upgrade it yourself or wait for the city to do it,” Mehl said.

From bulk goods to organic to-go, Bozeman locals are also set to see the footprint of the Community Food Co-Op grow.

On Monday night, city leaders approved the Co-Op on West Main Street to more than double in size. The expansion will add 23,550 square feet to the buildings’ existing 12,200.

General Manager Kelly Wiseman said that growth would make space to centralize the business, which he said is currently spread across five locations. The plans also include a new pickup spot for customers who bought their goods online.

Just before the vote, Pomeroy said some of her food has been sold at the Co-Op for years, adding that didn’t steer her vote in favor of its growth. She said it’s a place where local food and businesses are supported.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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