Chesterton Tribune

 

 

It's official; Aldi is coming to town

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Chesterton Town Manager Bernie Doyle and Town Council President Sharon Darnell, D-4th, have made the rumor official: an Aldi grocery store is coming to town, on the site of the old Kmart, on property owned by Garden Commercial Properties of New Jersey.

As Doyle and Darnell told the Chesterton Tribune after deadline on Thursday, groundbreaking on the new building is tentatively scheduled for spring 2021 with an opening in the late fall. Garden Commercial will continue to own the property and lease it to the Aldi corporation.

Doyle said that he and the town have been working with the New Jersey firm to find a new tenant for the building since the Kmart closed, some two and half years ago. “They were getting rid of all their Kmart and Sears stores and trying to come up with new ways to make that property valuable.”

Then along came Aldi. Or more accurately, along came the Aldi rumor. In response to a slew of social media posts at the time declaring the certainty of an Aldi’s setting up shop here, Doyle told the Tribune in May 2019 that a major announcement about the future of the Kmart property would be forthcoming but pleaded the delicacy of negotiations in declining to identify the anchor store. In December 2019 the old Kmart was razed and Doyle again cited confidentiality.

In fact, Doyle said on Thursday, Aldi preferred to keep the news under its vest until closer to groundbreaking, roughly a year from now, but ultimately left that decision up to the town. And now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Doyle and Darnell decided to pull the trigger. “We thought we could use some good news.” he said. “Big things come in small packages.”

Why Chesterton? “Aldi makes its decisions based on population and location,” Doyle said. “Chesterton is 10 to 15 minutes away at least from the Aldi stores in Valparaiso, Portage, and Michigan City. They looked at the growth of Chesterton, particularly since the last census, and the location right off I-94.”

“I’m very excited for Aldi,” Darnell for her part said. “They are such an amazing anchor and they attract fantastic businesses. We don’t have the square footage of the new building but it’s a big footprint and there will be space for other businesses. That’s part of their business model.”

“It’s another positive form of shopping for Chesterton residents,” Darnell noted. “It’s fun to drive to Valpo and shop but when it comes to grocery shopping you just want to get the job done. And now we’ll have another selection, a five-star addition. I’m thrilled to death. My family loves that store. I don’t think people understand the amount of business that Aldi does. If you go in after church on Sunday, it’s absolutely packed.”

“I don’t see Aldi hurting Jewel or Strack either,” Darnell added. “They’ll complement each other.”

Garden Commercial will continue to maintain the property, including the detention pond, Doyle said. “They’ll more than likely re-do the parking lot as of the maintenance deal.”

 

Posted 5/22/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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