About a year after the Landmark revealed that Aldi was planning to build a new store in the north parking lot of North Riverside Park Mall, representatives of the German-owned grocery chain formally presented preliminary plans to elected officials at the Nov. 1 village board meeting.
Trustees voted unanimously to remand the company’s planned unit development application to the North Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission once Aldi files it, with the owner of the property saying Aldi intends to begin construction in mid-2022.
“We’re hoping to be able to deliver [the site] … around the summer of 2022, and then Aldi would begin construction of their building,” said Matthew McDonnell, vice president of development for Seritage Growth Properties, which owns the former Sears anchor retail space at North Riverside Park Mall as well as the detached former Sears Automotive Center now inhabited by Blink Fitness and the parking lots immediately north and west of the retail box.
McDonnell estimated that construction of the store would take about six months, once the site is delivered to Aldi.
According to Chris Stair, Aldi’s director of real estate in the Chicago area, who attended the meeting virtually, the North Riverside store design would be based on a new prototype now being rolled out.
That new concept, according to a September article published by BusinessInsider.com, features softer lighting, wider aisles and a larger produce section. The new stores being built now are also larger. According to an October article in the publication Supermarket News, previous Aldi prototypes were about 16,500 square feet.
A site plan submitted to the village shows Aldi plans to construct a roughly 19,500-square-foot store with its own roughly 70-space parking lot on the north half of the large parking area north of the former Sears store.
“This is a relatively new design for us,” said Stair, adding that the prototype had been employed recently in Algonquin, Bloomingdale and Crestwood. “As we continue to roll out more stores, this is going to be more and more of what you will see going forward.”
The area around the new store and parking lot will be landscaped and work would include improvements to address storm water runoff.
Village trustees had few questions for store representatives and expressed strong support for Aldi’s plans for the new store while remanding the matter to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
North Riverside Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti told the Landmark in a separate interview that village officials have been working with Aldi for the past six months to ensure the design would be acceptable and ready for vetting by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Asked when Aldi might have a planned unit development application in to the village, McDonnell told the Landmark that he wasn’t certain but added, “We’re going to try and expedite it.”
He also said Seritage had fielded inquiries from companies interested in leasing the vacant upper floor of the two-story former Sears space. While he declined to reveal who those companies were, he did confirm they were retail uses.
While it was not addressed at the village board meeting on Nov. 1, it is presumed that Aldi would close its existing North Riverside location at 2000 Harlem Ave., which is less than a mile away, once a new store opens in the proposed location in the 7500 block of Cermak Road.