Aldi, low-cost grocery store, opening in Chapel Hill. Here’s what we know.

·3 min read

Shoppers will have a low-cost option for buying groceries when Aldi opens its new store at Eastgate Crossing in Chapel Hill.

The Germany-based store will be the second, anchor grocery tenant for the shopping center, which already includes a popular Trader Joe’s. No opening date has been set yet.

Orange County records show Aldi signed a 10-year lease in April with Eastgate’s owner KRG Eastgate Chapel Hill LLC. The lease gives Aldi the right to renew its lease in five-year increments over the next 35 years.

In June, the town’s Community Design Commission approved plans for a 25,530-square-foot store at Eastgate Crossing between East Franklin Street and Fordham Boulevard. The space is near Kipos restaurant and the Dollar Tree, and across the parking lot from Trader Joe’s grocery.

Stein Mart previously occupied the storefront, but closed many of its stores, including the Chapel Hill location, after filing last year for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Aldi store also will offer online ordering and curbside pickup, according to the lease. Its interior and exterior will be updated.

The grocery retailer is in the midst of an expansion that could add 100 more stores nationwide by 2022. It now has over 2,000 stores in 38 states and is aiming to become the nation’s third-largest retailer based on the number of stores, a company news release stated.

Several dozen Aldi stores have opened in North Carolina, including in the last few years in Durham and Wake counties.

In Chapel Hill, Wegmans also opened a store earlier this year. That store, one of four added to the Triangle in the last year, is just a five-minute drive from Eastgate Crossing at 1810 Fordham Blvd.

Eastgate Crossing sold, changes

KRG Eastgate Chapel Hill LLC, an affiliate of the Kite Realty Group real-estate investment company, bought the 14-acre shopping center in January from its longtime owner Federal Realty Investment Trust.

A deed filed with the Orange County Register of Deeds office does not specify a purchase price for Eastgate Crossing, but a Kite Realty financial report shows the company paid a combined $68 million for the property and a remaining 15% interest in Pan Am Plaza, a $550 million hotel and convention center expansion project in Indiana.

Eastgate Crossing has undergone several changes since the council created the Blue Hill District in 2014. Development in the district, which lies along Fordham Boulevard and Elliott, Franklin and Ephesus Church roads, follows a form-based code for how buildings should look and fit.

The Town Council does not review or vote on Blue Hill District projects. The Community Design Commission and town manager approve them to more quickly move projects to construction.

The shopping center also lies in a floodplain for Booker Creek, which was channeled through a culvert under the parking lot and shops when Eastgate replaced a farm and wetlands in 1958, before modern development rules.

In 2007, Federal Realty made a number of improvements to try and stem the flooding that regularly damages many of its businesses.

The town also recently completed the expansion of a natural flood basin between Eastgate and the Village Plaza shopping center on South Elliott Road. The basin is supposed to reduce floodwater rising from Eastgate’s parking lot and give the water time to move more slowly downstream.

Todd Bonnett, Aldi’s director of real estate, told the commission the new store will include floodproofing measures, such as floodgates.

The News & Observer could not reach Bonnett, Aldi Vice President Krysta Cearley and a company spokesperson by phone and email Thursday.

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