Thursday, July 19, 2018
Business

Aldi expansion plans include 3 stores in Pasco

German-based Aldi’s expansion plans include new proposals to put its discount grocery stores in the Cypress Creek Town Center in Lutz and in downtown New Port Richey.

A store also is planned for Pretty Pond Road and U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills, a project first announced in 2015.

The chain, which announced in June its intention to add more than 800 stores to its U.S. inventory over the next five years, already has two stores along U.S. 19 in west Pasco — one in Holiday and another in unincorporated Port Richey.

"We’re particular about our locations because we want to provide convenience to our customers,’’ the company says in its marketing material soliciting developable real estate.

Toward that end, Aldi recently filed preliminary plans with Pasco County to build a nearly 23,000-square-foot store at the southeast corner of State Road 56 and Wesley Chapel Boulevard in the Cypress Creek Town Center development.

It’s a switch for Aldi, which previously planned to build a 19,000-square-foot store in the same development, but on the west side of Wesley Chapel Boulevard. Both sites are owned by the Sierra family’s Pasco Ranch Inc.

The new location, which will actually be on Sun Vista Drive, provides the potential for higher visibility for the Aldi store and easier access for customers who also may shop at the nearby Costco.

"In this market, you learn the hard way that nothing is certain until the walls go up, but they seem to be very serious,’’ said Robert Sierra, chairman and CEO of Pasco Ranch’s affiliate, Sierra Properties. "They’re coming on very strong. I suspect they’re going to move pretty fast now.’’

Aldi’s director of real estate and representatives of the company’s engineering firm are scheduled to meet Dec. 19 with members of Pasco County’s planning staff to discuss the project in what commonly is called a pre-application meeting.

This is the third time Aldi has met with the county on a proposed store site in the Wesley Chapel-Lutz area. Besides the previous site just west of its current proposal, the company also had considered putting a store about three miles north on Wesley Chapel Boulevard in the Groves shopping center. The plan, revealed in 2016, never came to fruition.

"Once they put a shovel in the ground I will be pleased,’’ said Hope Allen, president and CEO of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce. "We know our community is growing so it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve increased their footprint. I’m glad they’re still coming to the area.’’

Aldi said it attracts more than 32 million shoppers each month to its 1,600 stores in 35 states. It carries 1,400 of the most commonly purchased grocery and household items in no-frill displays across just five aisles. Customers must rent a shopping cart for 25 cents – refundable when the cart is returned – and either bring their own bags or purchase sacks at the check-out.

In New Port Richey, AG Development Group is seeking to build an Aldi store measuring nearly 23,000 square feet at the corner of U.S. 19 and Main Street on the property containing the vacant building formerly occupied by the Suncoast News. AG Development proposed to demolition that building and also construct a separate 4,900-square-foot spec building for retail use.

The deal, however, is much more complex. To build the store, AG Development needs one-fifth of an acre owned by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

It has offered the city $35,555 for the parcel. Additionally, AG Development is applying for $1.6 million in tax increment financing assistance from the CRA to help capitalize the redevelopment project.

"I think it’s unlikely the city will participate to that degree in the process,’’ City Manager Debbie Manns said Monday.

She said the city asked the company to submit a new proposal. The City Council, sitting as the CRA’s board of directors, must approve both requests from AG Development before the project can proceed.

The proposal in Zephyrhills also is complicated with developers MQ Partners of Dallas seeking to relocate an existing traffic signal to Pretty Pond Road as part of its redevelopment plan for the former mobile home park on the northwest corner of the intersection.

"It’s in the works, but they haven’t pulled permits,’’ Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina said about the Aldi store.

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