New ALDI promises more grocery options and economic growth – The Oberlin Review

On September 15, the Oberlin Planning Commission approved plans to build a new ALDI grocery store in the city. Two years ago, Oberlin City Council rezoned nearly 28 acres of land on the proposed ALDI site to create a larger retail space called Oberlin Crossing. After several years of delay imposed by COVID-19, ALDI will be the first project built in the region, and some community members are hoping it will be the start of greater economic revitalization for the city.

In order to build the Oberlin Crossing shopping center, the group overseeing the project, Carnegie Management and Development Corporation, had to navigate the city’s legislative process. In 2019, the city council rezoned the land from its original classification as office space to its new designation as a heavy commercial zone, or C3, which opens the land to commercial use. The rezoning opens the way to developments beyond ALDI.

“Carnegie had originally proposed a much larger development that would have included the ALDIs,” said Carrie Handy, director of planning and development. “They say this is the first phase. So instead of doing it all at once, they’re going to phase it. The most significant development included more retail space, catering spaces and offices.

Since the proposed location is officially rezoned, Carnegie Management simply needs to seek administrative approval from the Planning Commission for each proposed building they wish to create in the space. At the beginning of September, representatives of the group met with the Commission for approval of the ALDI.

When plans for the Oberlin Crossing area were originally proposed, a few residents expressed concern that inviting big box stores within the city limits would harm the small town identity. from Oberlin. However, Oberlin City Council member Kelley Singleton says those concerns are grossly exaggerated.

“People are excited about it,” Singleton said. “[There will be] more options for groceries. There are people who already shop at ALDI in Amherst and no longer have to travel all the way to get there. It’s just more choice.

Mark Chesler is a resident who is less enthusiastic about the development. This week, Chesler filed a lawsuit with the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas, saying the site could create increased traffic. Chesler has often fought plans for development within the city, including changes to food truck zoning rules in 2015 and an O’Reilly auto parts project in 2016.

Before the plans were initially approved, the Oberlin Planning Commission completed a traffic impact study that led the Commission and the Ohio Department of Transportation to ask Carnegie to create turn lanes north and south, move a driveway and change lighting near the development.

The new ALDI could also pose challenges for local businesses that will have to compete with the supermarket. Yet, according to Oberlin Business Partnership executive director Janet Haar, it could also go the other way – local businesses can benefit from people coming to Oberlin to shop at ALDI.

“I have conflicting ideas about this because I know how [President at Braido Foods and Owner of Oberlin IGA] Leo Braido and Oberlin IGA worked to get into this community and build his store to serve the community while trying to be environmentally conscious, ”said Haar. “The other thing I think about… is that more people… will come to the Oberlin area and maybe, if we promote it right, will also come downtown and do business with it. other downtown businesses. [Oberlin]. “

In addition, the proposed ALDI could result in the opening of new stores in the Oberlin Crossing area. Singleton hopes ALDI will serve as an anchor for new businesses and a marker of economic growth.

“We’re trying to signal that Oberlin is open for business,” Singleton said. “There is a perception that it is very difficult to work with Oberlin. … We are trying to change that view and have more businesses in the city, get more local jobs and increase our tax base so that we can support our schools and municipal services.

Haar agrees that ALDI could act as a catalyst to increase the prosperity of all businesses in the city.

“The more we have, the more people are going to come, and the next time they come they could eat at another restaurant,” Haar said. “It’s a mistake to think that if you have a business you can’t have more than one. So that’s kind of where I’m from – the conflicting piece. I don’t want this to negatively affect IGA. And, on the other hand, I think it could positively affect the city of Oberlin.

The positive effects of the new ALDI counter the lingering concerns of some residents about its potentially negative impact. The new opportunities offered by the grocery store could strengthen local economic conditions and offer more competition to pre-existing businesses.

“It’s capitalism, isn’t it? Singleton said.

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