Newport News and Hampton have approved plans for competing discount German grocers Aldi and Lidl to each open at least three Peninsula stores, with construction starting as early as this spring.
Newport News has approved a site plan for Aldi to build a store on a vacant lot next to Kohl's at the end of the Jefferson Commons shopping center, a few doors down from a Trader Joe's — both of which are owned by Germany's Albrecht family.
Aldi plans to start construction of the new store in the spring, and open it in the fall of this year, Jeff Baehr, an Aldi vice president, said in an email.
Newport News also has approved a site plan for Lidl to build at a 5.6-acre wooded parcel owned by W.M. Jordan President and CEO John Lawson. The City Council approved a rezoning of the land for an unnamed grocer last year.
A spokesman from Lidl declined to confirm the store is opening, or when construction might begin. The application was submitted by MGP Retail Consulting, Lidl's U.S. real estate firm.
Hampton has approved Lidl's plans to open a store on Mercury Boulevard, just off Interstate 64, where the Hampton Bay Plaza and Suites now sits.
Lidl purchased that property in December, city records show, for $3.4 million. It is assessed at $2.6 million. Lidl or Aldi have not yet purchased any of the Newport News sites.
Aldi also plans to open a store in Hampton in 2016, Baehr said, though it's unclear where.
All three stores still need several permits, including building permits, to be approved by the cities before construction can begin.
Both chains also have submitted applications for additional stores in Newport News, which are pending.
Lidl submitted plans to open a store on Warwick Boulevard near Harpersville Road, where a Bowditch Ford dealership was located. The city will respond to that application by Feb. 23, said Susan Kassel, Newport News' manager of development plan review.
A 7-Eleven gas station and convenience store is planned to occupy the southern half of the Bowditch property, where the parking lot is located.
Aldi plans to build a second store at the corner of Jefferson and Ed Wright Lane, where a former Jade Buffet restaurant that was later eyed for a night club, would be demolished.
None of the additional Newport News stores will need to go to Planning Commission or City Council for consideration, Planning Director Sheila McAllister has said.
The stores are part of plans to expand aggressively in the U.S. for both chains.
Lidl is opening its U.S. headquarters in Arlington and a distribution center facility in Spotsylvania County. The grocer is "actively pursuing" sites in the region and plans to open stores in the United States no later than 2018, said Will Harwood, spokesman for Lidl US, based in Arlington, said in an email.
Aldi has already entered the U.S. market, and in December opened a store in Portsmouth – its first in Hampton Roads.
Aldi is in the midst of its five-year plan to open 650 new stores across the country, bringing the total number of U.S. stores to nearly 2,000 by the end of 2018, Baehr said.
"As demand continues to grow, Aldi is looking to open additional stores in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Williamsburg, Chesapeake and Newport News in 2016," Baehr said.
An Aldi store in Williamsburg is under construction currently.
A Wegmans grocery store is also rumored to be opening near the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, though Kassel said no plans have yet been submitted with the city from that New York-based chain.
Clift can be reached by phone at 757-247-7870.