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ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Costco looks poised to open its first location in Escondido, taking over a lot at the Westfield North County mall.

The Escondido City Council voted 5-0 at a special meeting last month to authorize a lease for the wildly popular big-box retailer. It would replace the former Sears store at the shopping center, located on the south side of the city near Interstate 15 and Kit Carson Park.

Costco still has to go through the land-use approval process before construction can start, as the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. But the council vote clears the way for the retailer to submit a development application and get the ball rolling.

A city staff report found that a new Costco store could generate roughly $1.5 million in sales tax each year and create more than 300 jobs. That report and other details about the agreement were shared publicly at the meeting.

“I’m very excited about Costco, along with my colleagues,” said Mayor Paul McNamara following the presentation. “As the mall business model was dying — and then accelerated by COVID — it’s great that we have a replacement for it.

“I would like that, at least minimum, $1.5 million to be coming into our city as opposed to somewhere else.”

The council vote authorized an agreement with a 20-year original lease and the possibility of seven five-year extensions. The deal sets Costco’s base rent at $100,000 per year, with no rent due for the first three years after opening.

If Costco takes the Sears spot as planned, a former Nordstrom site would be the only remaining big box vacancy for Westfield at the mall, according to the U-T.