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January 13, 2017

German grocer Lidl reveals plan for Warrenton store

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Jessica Pfeiffer, a planner with Lidl’s law firm, fields questions at Thursday night’s community meeting at the Warrenton Police Station.
Lidl
• What: German grocery chain with 10,000 stores in 27 countries.

• Proposed site: About 4 acres at 394 Broadview Ave., Warrenton, replacing Cheswick Motel.

• Store: 36,000 square feet.

• Proposed: 25-foot landscape buffer along Norfolk Drive and Bear Wallow Road and sidewalk along Bear Wallow Road and Broadview Avenue, shared parking with McMahon’s Irish Pub.

• Applicant seeks: Town council rezoning of rear portion of site from residential to commercial use. No application yet.

• U.S. headquarters: Arlington.

• Planned: About 100 stores in U.S. so far, along the East Coast from New Jersey to Georgia.

• Website: www.lidl.com

• Facebook: Click here
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Staff Journalist
Representatives of German grocery giant Lidl on Thursday night unveiled a partial plan for a 36,000-square-foot store in Warrenton.

One of approximately 21 planned in Virginia, Warrenton’s store would replace the Cheswick Motel at 394 Broadview Ave., next to McMahon’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. McMahon’s would stay.

The German supermarket chain plans to open its first U.S stores by 2018.

Lidl (pronounced LEE-dle) already has about 100 stores under construction or planned along the East Coast from New Jersey to Georgia.

More than 40 citizens attended an hour-long community meeting about the proposed store Thursday night at the Warrenton Police Station.

“They are looking to be good community members, good neighbors, and wanted to come before you first to get feedback,” said Land Use Planner Jessica Pfeiffer with law firm Walsh Colucci Lubeley and Walsh, who fielded questions for Lidl.

Similar in some respects to Trader Joe’s and with more stores than Kroger, the supermarket giant has 10,000 shops in 27 countries.

Lidl strives to give customers “high-quality, fresh products at the lowest possible price.” Aldi, another German company, ranks as its biggest competitor.

Siggi Jamison, a Norfolk Drive resident originally from Germany, who has shopped at Lidl in Europe, praised the grocery store.

“Not only do they have very fresh produce, they are very well organized,” Ms. Jamison said. “They have good products. And Lidl tries to keep costs down.”

If approved, Lidl would compete with five other grocery stores in Warrenton. Shoppers spent $161.7 million on groceries in Fauquier stores last year.

“I do think that those retailers that are more price oriented . . . Food Lion, dollar stores . . . are more vulnerable . . . and Walmart to a degree,” said Jeff Metzger, publisher of the trade publication Food World.

Warrenton has a Food Lion and Walmart, with the latter the market leader. Walmart commands 20 percent of the Fauquier grocery market, with $32.4 million in annual sales at its Warrenton store.

“Lidl contacted us with some questions about the market close to a year ago,” Warrenton Economic Director Heather Stinson said. “I think it reflects that there is certainly a strong interest in our market. It indicates a healthy amount of competition and reflects that we are a hub for commerce in this area.”

The redevelopment would take place on approximately four acres.

More than half the property, fronting Broadview Avenue, has commercial zoning. However, Lidl would need the town council to rezone the vacant rear portion, designated for residential use, along Norfolk Drive and Bear Wallow Road.

Designs show the building standing on a grade 6 feet lower than Bear Wallow Road, with a retaining wall and 25-foot-deep landscaped buffers along residential streets.

The proposed grocery store would have two street entrances, one on Bear Wallow Road and the other on Broadview Avenue. It would share parking with McMahon’s.

At Thursday night’s meeting, citizens raised concerns about traffic flow through a tricky intersection, landscaped buffering, noise and stormwater management.

“My house is directly behind your entrance that’s coming off of Bear Wallow and I have serious concerns about that as far as traffic,” Linda Snow said. “A 25-foot buffer is not going to cover that entire area. I just do not want to go onto my deck and look at a store.”

But, she supports Lidl coming to town, Ms. Snow added. “If they can address some of my concerns, then it might be nice to walk across the street” to a grocery store.

Others suggested building the store instead on the Weissberg Corp.’s 41.7-acre parcel behind Country Chevrolet, at Blackwell Road and Lee Highway.

Gary Leopold, who lives on Bear Wallow Road, expressed concern about flooding near the property.

Neighborhood resident Jean Hines said, “I think it will be good for that corner, the tax base for the town, jobs and aesthetic purposes . . . . But, I think they need to do more traffic studies.”

Lidl already has purchased land for three stores and a distribution center in the Fredericksburg area. It has a contract to purchase the Warrenton site.

Stores near Occoquan and Culpeper remain under construction and one Fredericksburg store nears completion, according to Jamie Wonderly, Lidl real estate manager.

“What we know is they are the best-prepared foreign entry that has ever tried to gain a foothold in the U.S.,” Mr. Metzger said. “They have spent several million dollars in infrastructure.

“They are very successful in Europe,” he said. “They have a model that seems to be very competitive in keeping with what consumers feel is necessary in a supermarket today. Their calling card, like in Europe is going to be price.”

Lidl representatives declined to say when they would submit an application for rezoning in Warrenton. They also declined to discuss how many jobs the store would create.

“I think it would be a nice opportunity to do something with that property, if it’s also going to help McMahon’s, clean up the parking lot and get rid of the Cheswick,” Catherine Zimmer, a 14-year neighbor said.

Town Councilman Bob Kravetz (Ward 4), represents citizens in the neighborhood.

“I have heard from a few (neighbors), and it seems to be right now about evenly divided,” Mr. Kravetz said. “Some are saying, ‘Yeah, looking forward to it,’ and some are saying, ‘I’m worried about the traffic.’ My answer to them is we don’t know yet. It’s way too preliminary to know any of this.”

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Whyinfauquier · January 16, 2017 at 8:27 am
It is great that we are finally getting a new store in Warrenton, just wish it had a been a store that I have heard of, like Aldi. Lets not stop here, lets look at Khols, Big Lots, Costco and other proven stores that we go to other counties to shop in. Traffic, well there is always going to be traffic. Lets keep our tax dollars here!
BJ · January 15, 2017 at 7:35 pm
@ Lois LaLane - I have no idea about the Cheswick Hotel being a former government "safehouse", but if you look on the State Police website, the Jefferson Motel is temporary home to some registered sex offenders in our area. The Jefferson Motel is another eyesore IMO in addition to the Rip Van Winkle Motel.
BJ · January 14, 2017 at 9:51 pm
I'm all for the demise of the Cheswick Hotel, next the Rip Van Winkle. That is a very tricky traffic area, and thorough planning will be required. If it is true that more Sears stores are closing then there is always the possibility of putting a Lidl's at that location. Best of Luck.
Jim Koehr · January 14, 2017 at 10:36 am
This looks like a great way to rid our community of the eyesore hotel on our main thoroughfare
Rover 530 · January 14, 2017 at 12:57 am
This is great news! This will fit in well with choices for a large portion of the Fauquier community. Travelling to Prince William Co. to take advantage of 'Aldi' is inconvenient. A store like 'Lidl' is great for basic groceries and home products and complements the various 'Dollar' stores in Warrenton. Good for consumers on a limited budget. Loyalists will always shop at Safeway, Giant, et al. It would be good to have one near Bealeton. People in that area don't exclusively shop at Food Lion. Many travel to Wal-Mart to consolidate their shopping.
EOCDad · January 13, 2017 at 10:44 pm
This looks great! I hope it goes through! it would be nice to walk to!
Lois LaLane · January 13, 2017 at 9:18 pm
That'll shorten the grand tour for visitors if they tear down the rumored former government "safehouse."
RDWJR · January 13, 2017 at 7:26 pm
Why not propose the growing Bealeton community with pad sites available at Mintbrook. We only have the Food Lion and plenty of commuter and local traffic! This would be a great anchor store which may invite a Starbucks, fast food, or other retailer. PLEASE...
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