German grocer Lidl is seeking a combined $9.5 million in state redevelopment grants for six stores across Pennsylvania, including a location along the Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia that had not been previously disclosed.
Lidl U.S. Operations LLC’s applications for state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding include $2 million requests for each of the three stores that it wants to build in Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Budget Office.
Lidl opened its first stores in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in June 2017, with shelves filled with merchandise from in-house labels priced to dramatically undercut competing grocers, a model pioneered in the United States by competing German supermarket chain Aldi.
But Lidl’s U.S. rollout has been slower than projected, with Klaus Gehrig, chief executive of Lidl’s parent, the Schwarz Group, last year calling the process a “catastrophe” in a German business magazine. Gehrig faulted the company’s site selection team for buying overly large sites in carelessly chosen locations and paying too much for them.
Lidl has acknowledged its plans for locations on South Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia and on Butler Street near Aramingo Avenue in Port Richmond.
Also sought is funding for a store on Roosevelt Boulevard, according to an RACP grant application provided to the Inquirer. The application does not specify an address, but it places the proposed store in the 19114 zip code, which would locate the site on the boulevard’s southeast side between Welsh and Red Lion Roads.
The requested $2 million for the project “is the expected amount of costs to remediate the land and remove the structure on the site,” Christopher Allen, a senior manager with Lidl’s U.S. operation, wrote in the application. “The site is over budget, which may terminate the project.”
Lidl spokesman Will Harwood did not directly respond to queries seeking details of the Roosevelt Boulevard store’s location and asking whether plans for other stores could be jeopardized if the RACP funding were not secured.
“We often work with local government agencies and apply for available investment programs when we expand into new markets, including on sites that require remediation or rehabilitation,” Harwood said in an email. “This is only one aspect of our decision-making process — the most important factor for us is finding the most convenient locations to serve our customers.”
The state RACP program is designed to support redevelopment projects that officials deem capable of having a big economic impact. Allen wrote in the application for the Roosevelt Boulevard store’s grant that the project would bring “a new, low-cost retail grocery store to a community that is needing such a project and also is revamping a site that is in need of redevelopment.”
Lidl is also requesting $1.5 million from the fund for a store on Carlisle Road in Dover Borough, York County, and $1 million for a store on South 25th Street in Easton City, Northampton County.
In addition, it seeks $1 million for a location on MacDade Boulevard in Delaware County’s Ridley Township that opened late last year.