STUART, Fla. — The Stuart Costco project has sparked controversy from the beginning.
WPTV reported earlier about the developer's timeline announcement, which puts the wholesale chain's completion time in the summer of 2025, and residents are divided about the time it will take to open doors.
"I'm happy," Richard Merrell said. "Well, I wish it was sooner."
Gary Ober of Palm City said he was hoping the chain would open sooner, but is happy it's opening at all.
"I would love it," Ober said. "I'm a Costco supporter."
Some residents, however, are not as excited about the project and are content with its timeline.
"I think that's appropriate, maybe I can find a house elsewhere in the meantime," Lisa Mari, a Palm City resident, joked. "[It's] chaotic, way too many people coming; it's within blocks of my house."
For Robin Cartwright, hearing the timeline was expected, but also a bit like putting salt in a wound. Cartwright originally filed a lawsuit against the city in September 2021, questioning its land-use designation for the plot of land.
She won the lawsuit in April 2022 when Judge Francine Folkes filed a recommended order siding with Cartwright.
In 2023, the administration commission reversed that decision and sided with the city. Cartwright appealed but then withdrew her appeal.
Still, she told WPTV she has an issue with what was approved and what will be built that she fears will have an impact on the community. The project includes an 18-pump gas station, restaurant space, and a 378-unit apartment complex in addition to the store.
"Our roadways, our little community can only handle so much," Cartwright said. "The issue I have is with the way it was approved."
She fears the project could lead to the approval of other, bigger projects.
Martin County NAACP President Jimmy Smith had the opposite reaction. He said while the completion date is far out, getting a timeline is one step closer to getting more jobs for his community and more revenue for business owners like himself.
"I'm very excited," Smith said. "I travel south to West Palm Beach to shop for my barbecue business. I travel north to St. Lucie County. Martin County really doesn't have a wholesaler that we can afford to make a profit."
Tom Cosgriff, project manager for M&M Realty, released the following statement to WPTV, reading in full:
"In response to all the excitement and anticipation across the Treasure Coast for the new Costco in Stuart, we wanted to provide a tentative timeline on the process. As promised, we’re constructing the Costco—and the connector road between Kanner Highway and Willoughby Boulevard—before any other elements of the project. Accounting for the fact that every construction project is at the mercy of various weather factors, we hope to have the new Costco complete and ready for the public to enjoy in an estimated 18-month period."