An Aldi grocery store will open in North Philadelphia behind the Divine Lorraine Hotel residential complex on Fairmount Avenue near 13th Street by 2020, officials said.
The grocery store will encompass less than half of the ground floor retail portion of a 14-floor, mixed-use project by RAL Development Services, a New York-based development company, wrote Roxanne Donovan, spokesperson for RAL Development, in an email to The Temple News. The development is expected to be completed in 12-18 months.
Aldi agreed to lease a 25,427-square-foot space, according to the statement. RAL Development was given a $3 million state grant in 2016 to fund the project as part of the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, Donovan wrote.
The grocery store will be joined by other commercial businesses on the lower level of the building, like Chesterbrook Academy, a private preschool, and 478 apartment rentals on the upper floors.
“The Development team is working diligently to recruit and sign retail users that are compatible and additive to the neighborhoods which this development will serve,” Donovan wrote.
Aldi is a German-based grocer that uses Aldi-exclusive brands that provide discounted prices to compete with other grocery stores. The supermarket advertises that shoppers can save up to 50 percent when switching from national brands to Aldi-exclusive ones.
While Aldi does have several standalone stores in the city, the new construction will be its first mixed-use development site in the Philadelphia area.
City Council communications director Jane Roh wrote in an email to The Temple News that City Council President Darrell Clarke is looking forward to seeing Aldi open its new location in North Philadelphia, which is located in his district.
“More affordable, fresh, and healthy food options, as well as more jobs, are welcome additions to this growing community,” Roh wrote.
The new Aldi store will offer low-cost food options for students and residents near Main Campus, a community which Clarke said is a “food desert,” Clarke told KYW Newsradio in August. Currently, the Fresh Grocer in Progress Plaza is one of the two full-service grocery stores within a one mile radius of the Cecil B. Moore neighborhood, including Cousin’s Supermarket 15h Street near Norris.
Fresh Grocer shopper Debra Smith has lived in North Philadelphia her whole life and does not have a supermarket within walking distance of her residence near Lehigh and Broad streets.
“I have to catch the subway train here, so [Fresh Grocer] is about two stops from where I live,” Smith said. “I probably will go to Aldi, even though its further down, but [Fresh Grocer] is really the only thing around.”
Though Aldi is expected to have lower prices, Fresh Grocer shopper and North Philadelphia resident Adell Valentino said she will likely continue shopping at Progress Plaza.
“I don’t like Aldi because everything is pre-bagged, and I like to pick my own fruits and vegetables,” Valentino said. “That’s what I dislike about it.”
Valentino said the Fresh Grocer is also closer to her residence, and as a retired senior citizen, she does not want to travel far for her groceries.
Freshman biochemistry major Pierce McGowan said the Fresh Grocer will likely remain the more convenient supermarket option for him.
“I probably will still go [to Fresh Grocer] because it’s a lot closer to campus, and I’m not sure Aldi is worth the walk,” McGowan said. “This is my first semester, and so far this is the only store I found close to me.”