New Aldi location in Sabraton gets planning commission approvals

MORGANTOWN — The former home of Freedom Ford on Earl L Core Road in Sabraton may become the site of a new Aldi grocery store by spring 2020.
The first steps toward that eventuality transpired Thursday night when the Morgantown Planning Commission approved two requests from the national grocery chain. One combined two parcels at the site and another approved Aldi’s site plan.
Christopher Kambar of APD Engineering & Architecture said the planned building would be 20,288 square feet, about 12,000 of which will be retail space designed around a five-aisle floor plan.
The store’s design would dramatically change the area, replacing the open frontage of the former car lot with a curb, sidewalk and singular point of entrance across from Hartman Run Road. The four-way light at the intersection of Earl L Core and Hartman Run would control access into a 103-space parking lot.
“The DOH is doing their own traffic signal design and timing,” Kambar said, adding “The highway engineering and any changes out in the right of way is being configured and designed right now. That should be done any day and back to the DOH for their approval, and they will then begin the timing of this signal, which we’ve heard can take several months.”
According to Kambar, the store property will also include cross access to Sabraton Plaza as well as a path from the rail trail.
“So if you’re at Long John’s or the Quick Lube or anywhere else, everyone here knows pulling left out of there is tricky. It’s three-dimensional, you’ve got geometry issues where you’re kind of sitting uphill and it’s hard to see,” City Planner Chris Fletcher said. “What’s really attractive about this development is that … someone can actually go across the ALDI property and use the light to go left.”
The entire lot, including the asphalt, will be demolished and removed before construction begins, possibly as early as September depending on subsequent approvals and the DOH.
Rory Garr, Aldi’s director of real estate,  said tentative plans are for an opening in the first quarter of 2020.
Aldi currently has two stores in the Morgantown area — one at 245 Don Knotts Boulevard and one at 3521 Monongahela Boulevard in Star City.
Garr pledged  a move toward more fresh foods in this new location.
“More fresh products, more produce and just more toward the fresh side as opposed the boxed goods and freezer items,” he  said.
Asked if Aldi intended to keep the other two stores open, Garr said the chain was not prepared to comment on that.
The Aldi location in Star City opened in 2017.
The project will now go before the city’s board of zoning appeals next week to request variance relief for maximum front setback and the placement of parking between the structure and Earl L Core Road.
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