Aldi grocery store coming to Front Royal

After nearly a year of planning and deliberation, a Front Royal location for an Aldi grocery store has been selected.

The German-based grocery chain recently closed on a deal to purchase an 18,000-square-foot unit for $1.45 million in the Riverton Commons Shopping Center off of U.S. 522.

Jake DiPiazza, director of real estate at the Aldi Northern Virginia office, said in a phone interview Friday, “We won’t close on a property until we’re confident we’re going to build a store there.”

DiPiazza said that the company is hoping to have the new store up and running within the first quarter of 2016, pending weather and when construction begins.

He indicated that this location has been of interest to the company for quite some time.

“Front Royal’s a market that we’ve been looking at for a longtime, and we feel like it’s a great area for us to serve the people that live there.”

The new store will be the company’s second location in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, with the first being in Kernstown Commons near Winchester.

Jennifer McDonald, executive director of the Warren County Economic Development Authority, said on Friday that the new Aldi location will provide the town’s residents a different option.

“Aldi is one of the businesses that we had been asked (by residents) to try and recruit for a while, because it offers a different kind of grocery store that we do not currently have,” she said.

Front Royal has Wal-Mart, Martin’s, Food Lion and to a certain degree Target to serve as the primary grocery options for residents.

“It’s not like walking into a Martin’s. They have reduced prices on their items,” McDonald said. “We have the typical grocery store and Aldi is a different brand.”

Regarding the new Aldi stores’ proximity to the other stores that sell groceries, DiPiazza said, “The big thing for us, is we want to be located near other grocery stores, because we find that once customers try Aldi out, they tend to stick with us.”

This new store is part of a major expansion for the company. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that the company expects to increase its total stores from 1,400 to more than 2,000 by 2018.

The Front Royal area, DiPiazza said, fit all of the requirements or metrics that the company looks for in a new location.

On its website, Aldi requires that new locations be more than 18,000 square feet, have a minimum of 85 parking spaces and be in an area with daily traffic count of 20,000 vehicles.

According to 2014 data from the Virginia Department of Transportation, segments of Shenandoah Avenue, North Royal Avenue and South Royal Avenue saw between 15,000 and 31,000 vehicles per day.

The data traffic along segments of Interstate 66 ranged between 17,000 and 37,000 when both east and west directions were considered.

DiPiazza said that traffic along the Interstate 66 and Interstate 81 interchange played a major factor in the company’s decision.

“I think people kind of come into Front Royal as a shopping hub, so this is a convenient location, we think, right off of the highway there,” he said.

DiPiazza said he is unsure when construction on the 18,000-square-foot store will begin. He said the company is hoping to receive its final permits for the site soon.

“I don’t have a date for when we’ll get those, but as soon as we get those, we plan to start construction,” DiPiazza said. “Because we’re doing a lot of this construction kind of running into the winter, it’s hard to tell when we’re going to be ready to open.”

DiPiazza said, “We’re really looking forward to opening up in Front Royal and serving the whole Front Royal community.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com