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German Discount Grocery Chain Nixes Proposed Wilkes-Barre Twp. Location

August 20, 2018

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — German discount supermarket chain Lidl has pulled out of a proposal to open a store on vacant land across from Mohegan Sun Arena, according to Wilkes-Barre Twp. zoning officer Tom Zedolik.

Last year, Lidl filed a land development application and proposed to open a store on the vacant lot on Highland Park Bouelvard.

Singh Realty of Harford owns the land. A sign from Hinerfeld Commercial Real Estate, which represents Singh Realty, on the property lists the land for sale.

“I’m sure something will go there sooner or later, because it is valuable land and there’s not much land left in the township for development,” Zedolik said. “That’s a valuable piece of land in that location and it’s for sale.”

Lidl entered the U.S. more than a year ago with ambitious plans to open 100 discount food stores in the first year.

It intended to expand aggressively throughout the eastern part of the U.S. Real estate deals were made in many states but business did not materialize as expected for Lidl. As a result, its initial plans were modified and few stores are now set to open this year, according to national reports.

John Cognetti, owner of Hinerfeld Commercial Real Estate which has represented Singh Realty for the last two years, said Lidl initially planned to occupy the corner on Highland Park Boulevard but “at the 11th hour, decided not to move forward.”

“We haven’t heard anything since they backed out,” Cognetti said.

Singh Realty still plans to develop a hotel on another part of the nearly 10 acres of land, Cognetti said.

He would not identify the hotel or provide more details. Lidl’s withdrawal required the original plan for the site to be modified, he said.

He said the corner site still needs improvement as far as traffic improvements and infrastructure investments but he added that it’s a “great site in terms of there are not too many sites in the center of all this activity like this one.”

“That’s one of the most dynamic sites in Northeast Pennsylvania because of its location and because of the traffic coming off (Interstate) 81,” Cognetti said.

He said Hinerfeld has received inquiries about the site from various companies interested in the corner site and he thinks it’s just a matter of time before someone buys it.

It was unclear if Lidl is looking to open another location in Northeast Pennsylvania. Efforts to reach a spokesperson from Lidl were unsuccessful.

Lidl is a chief rival to ALDI, which recently remodeled its stores in Kingston and Berwick.

In all, ALDI recently announced it will invest more than $5 billion to remodel and expand its number of stores to 2,500 by the end of 2022.

The plan also includes the addition of more fresh, organic and easy-to-prepare food options to its bounty of private label and low-cost products.

National reports show ALDI is now dominating discount grocery wars, beating both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s combined.

Contact the writer:

dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2115, @CVAllabaugh

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