Lidl plans WB store

Published 7:15 pm Thursday, January 21, 2016

German discount grocer Lidl is coming to the Chesapeake Square area.

The Chesapeake City Council on Wednesday approved a rezoning request, giving Lidl the green light to build a 36,000-square-foot grocery store at 4033 Portsmouth Blvd.

The company will raze the shuttered building that a car dealership, Performance Buick, once occupied, according to Chesapeake planners.

Email newsletter signup

Lidl operates more than 10,000 stores in 26 European countries, according to the company’s website. But the company is new to the United States, with no stores having yet opened here.

In June 2015, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Lidl is investing $202 million in Virginia, including $77 million to build the company’s U.S. corporate headquarters in Arlington and $125 million on a regional headquarters and distribution center in Spotslyvania County, according to a press release from McAuliffe’s office.

Lidl submitted plans to build the Western Branch store with Chesapeake’s planning department in October. City planners didn’t know the anticipated construction date, and calls to a Lidl spokesman were not returned Wednesday.

The Western Branch store will be across the street from Chesapeake Square Mall and eventually, next door to its chief European competitor and fellow German grocery chain, Aldi.

Although an opening date has not been announced, Aldi’s website shows the company plans to open a store at Crossroads at Chesapeake Square.

Both Aldi and Lidl are small, no-frills grocery stores that carry a lot of private labels, said Marc Steiner, a Western Branch resident and member of Western Branch Growing Forward’s business and development committee.

The Growing Forward group has a Facebook page, promotes development in Western Branch and has organized committees to work on solutions.

“This is not a Kroger Marketplace,” Steiner said, referring to the recently opened 130,000-square-foot Kroger in Suffolk’s nearby Harbour View community. “Lidl caters to more neighborhood shoppers … people within a couple of miles’ radius.”

“As we look at businesses, we can’t look at it in a vacuum. We have to look at what serves the area,” Steiner said. “This is going to bring variety … and it’s a step in the right direction.”

Members of the Western Branch Growing Forward have been lobbying for Trader Joe’s to open a store in Chesapeake, preferably in the Western Branch community. Growing Forward member Beverly O’Quinn has urged members on Facebook to fill out an online request asking the grocer to consider the soon-to-be-available Michael’s store at 4300 Portsmouth Blvd.

Michael’s is moving to a new site in Harbour View within the next two months.

Steiner said he doubts Western Branch has the demographics and rooftops Trader Joe’s requires.

“A petition doesn’t hurt,” Steiner said. “But more importantly, we are sending a positive message that we are a community where residents are welcoming and engaged.

“We are telling businesses … that if they look beyond the demographics, this is a community that will support you.”