Aldi to open new, larger Iowa City location


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By the start of the new year, Iowa City grocery shoppers will have a new place to pick up that gallon of milk, among other household staples.

Requests for construction bids were sent out by the city of Iowa City Monday morning for a new Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi store, said Fred Rose, a representative for the Rose Companies. The Cedar Falls-based contracting and consulting firm began demolishing and clearing the five commercial buildings on the corner of Ruppert Road and Highway 1 West on Monday, on land just west of the recently opened Deery Brothers Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram, 631 Highway 1 W.

Rose said his company will take control of the land for the five-month long project on Aug. 1, and one of four construction bids will be selected at the end of this week. A new nearly 16,000-square-foot store is expected to open sometime by the end of December or the beginning of January.

The current building is in the process of being sold.

Rose said the new store makes a “perfect fit for the area,” noting that the new building will sit far back from the highway and have strong visibility next to existing businesses, notably the Carousel Motors dealership and Walmart.

He said Aldi executives in Chicago chose the site because of its proximity to Walmart.

The current low interest rates, he said, have only encouraged new and existing businesses to invest.

“They were a horrible rats nest of buildings,” he said about the former businesses that had occupied the site. “There were even a couple of people living in some of them.”

Among the businesses that once occupied the site were the Grooming Den, Gallery One, Superior Detailing and Reconditioning, and Crown Electric.

The Grooming Den is in the process of relocating to the former location of Giardiniera Chicago Kitchen, 227 E. First St.

Jeff Davidson, the city director of planning and development, said the years following the 2010 opening of the new Walmart have pushed significant investment into the highway corridor once largely dominated by more industrial-like businesses.

“Thirty years ago, there wasn’t that traffic [count],” he said. “Commercial intensive use really don’t need the highway visibility and as the traffic count goes up on the highway, things like a grocery store, they become more appropriate uses than backstreet type uses.”

Brandon Hofeldt, the store manager at the Waterfront Hy-Vee, 1720 Waterfront Drive, said he expects a small increase in sales and revenue with the shuttering of the nearby Aldi.

“Anytime a competitor closes nearby, there’s going to be something [of benefit],” he said. [Current Aldi shoppers] might be willing to stop in [here], because it’s a little trek because a lot of people in this neighborhood take the bus or walk to the store.”

Javier Gonzalez, a manager at the current Aldi, 1534 S. Gilbert St., said details are still being discussed for what the new store will include, but the company principles and store selection will remain.

He said he was unsure on why the company had decided to close its existing store rather than be served by two.

For one long-time Aldi shopper, who makes the more than one-hour trip to Iowa City once a month, the change in location will not change her purchasing habits.

“I’ve always liked the prices, and it was the milk [prices] that were really great years ago,” Oskaloosa resident Erma Edwards said. “This [move] will make no difference to me.”

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