ALDI to begin store construction this week

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Shown is an illustration of what the ALDI Food Market off Halstead Boulevard Extended in Elizabeth City will look like once it's completed. City Manager Rich Olson said Monday he anticipates construction on the new store will start this week.

Aldi site.jpg

By William F. West
Staff Writer

Monday, June 4, 2018

Elizabeth City residents frustrated by the city’s limited grocery store options got some good news on Monday.

ALDI, the German grocery giant, plans to start construction on its new grocery store off Halstead Boulevard Extended sometime this week, City Manager Rich Olson said.

"It looks like they're going to be moving forward here very quickly," Olson said. "We're excited about it."

The Elizabeth City ALDI Food Market will be built at the intersection of Mount Everest Drive and Conlon Way, across Halstead Boulevard Extended from the 7-Eleven convenience store.

ALDI’s new store will be 22,462 square feet, Olson said in his weekly memo to the mayor and city councilors on Friday. Construction on the store is estimated to be completed before the end of the year, he said. 

Earth-moving equipment was stationed at the northwest corner of the Mount Everest Drive-Conlon Way intersection on Monday. Olson said that's because crews are preparing a stormwater retention pond for the store site.

Brett Cozzi, a spokesman for ALDI, said Monday his company was working on a response to a list of questions about the new store from The Daily Advance.  

According to ALDI's website, the Germany grocery chain began in 1976 and currently has nearly 1,800 U.S. stores in 35 states. The closest ALDI’s store to Elizabeth City right now is in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Olson said ALDI's decision to enter the Elizabeth City market is a win for local grocery shoppers because it will offer “another choice besides Food Lion and Walmart.” Right now, local shoppers’ only grocery options in Elizabeth City are one of four Food Lion stores or the Walmart Superstore at the Shoppes at Tanglewood.

Up until recently, shoppers did have a third option: Farm Fresh, on South Hughes Boulevard. However, the store’s owner, Minneapolis-based Supervalu sold it earlier this year to Food Lion, the Salisbury-based chain that already operates three grocery stores in Elizabeth City.

Olson suggested some city residents were apparently so upset with Supervalu’s decision to sell the Farm Fresh to Food Lion, they looked to city officials to see if there was something they could do to halt the transaction.   

“From what I've heard from our citizens, for some reason, we have a lot of people that wanted us to somehow intervene in the Food Lion purchase of Farm Fresh,” Olson said.

Olson said the city had to point out to those making the inquiries that the city has no control over who sells businesses to whom.

Pasquotank Commissioner Jeff Dixon also said Monday that ALDI’s decision to start construction on its new store was a good thing. 

“Well, obviously I think competition is good,” he said. ”Obviously, everybody likes choice.”

Dixon also believes construction of the ALDI store bodes well for the continued build-out of the Halstead Extended corridor.

“I think it's good because other retailers look at the traffic flow. And obviously if the traffic flow count continues to go up, then they'll be more liable to try to locate there as well,” he said.

The most recent N.C. Transportation Department data show the traffic count on Halstead Extended just west of Thunder Road is 18,000 vehicles a day.

With ALDI starting construction on its new store, the question now is whether Lidl, its German-based competitor, will follow suit.

Lidl has announced plans to build a grocery store on the east side of Mount Everest Drive, on the 7-Eleven side of Halstead Boulevard Extended.

Lidl received an extension from the city for its store site plan. A site plan is a detailed engineering drawing of proposed improvements to a developed lot. But no other information about Lidl’s plans has been released. 

Olson said Monday he doesn’t see Lidl starting construction “until probably October, November, at the earliest.”

Chandler Ebeier, a spokeswoman for Lidl, said Monday her company has a number of sites in development in North Carolina and does not comment on each one.

“However, we do make store announcements regularly and as we have more to share in your area, we will be in close contact,” Ebeier said.