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Aldi grocery store could be headed to Albemarle Square

Updated at 6 p.m.

An Aldi could be coming to Albemarle Square shopping center.

An application has been submitted to Albemarle County’s Architectural Review Board for the German discount grocery store to fill the vacant space of the former Fresh Market in the shopping center at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Rio Road.

If this Aldi comes to fruition, it will join Lidl, another German grocery store chain, with intentions of locating along U.S. 29 near the county’s population center in the near future.

Representatives from Aldi and Dumbarton properties, which manages the shopping center, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

According to a July news release, Aldi plans to open more than 70 new stores by the end of the year. In Virginia, there are currently stores in Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Culpeper and Short Pump.

This isn’t the first time Aldi has submitted plans for a location in Albemarle. The chain had considered the Hollymead Town Center for a new location in late 2013, but withdrew an application with the county in early 2014.

The design of the Aldi is currently scheduled to go before Albemarle’s ARB at its meeting at 1 p.m. Monday.

The Albemarle and Charlottesville area has seen multiple new grocery store chains enter the market in the past 10 years, including Wegmans, Costco and Trader Joe’s. Kroger and Harris Teeter still dominate the market, according to Food World’s annual retail market study, but are not taking as much of the market share as they have in previous years.

The area’s Kroger stores had 20.9% of the local market, with $121.3 million in sales, according to the study, which looked at data from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, while Harris Teeter had a market share of 11.25% and $58.8 million in sales.

But during the 12 months ending March 31, 2012, Kroger had about 27% of the area’s market share, while Harris Teeter had about 15%.

Albemarle Square is in the area of the county’s Rio-29 Small Area Plan, which has been identified as a priority area for public investment and redevelopment.

In the county’s most recent resident survey, and during several public hearings for new housing developments on vacant land, community members have said that redeveloped shopping centers should include new housing.

Representatives from Dumbarton previously have said that Albemarle Square property owners would “consider the best uses of our property including mixed uses if permitted by the county” if market conditions change and if it’s determined to be feasible. They also have expressed concerns about aspects of the small area plan that have been presented to elected officials and the public, such as new roads shown going through the shopping center.

So far, only Great Eastern Management has presented designs to add previously unplanned apartments to an existing shopping center in Charlottesville’s Seminole Square, after Kroger decided against a planned relocation to the former Giant space there.


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