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Aldi plans to replace local store

January 22, 2018
By GLYNIS HART - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Rumors that the Aldi supermarket on Lake Flower Avenue is closing turn out to be ... rumors.

The Aldi company submitted a pre-application to the village Development Board on Oct. 5, 2017, to build a new building. The company would like to demolish the existing building after the new one is built so it can stay open during construction. In December, more plans for the project were submitted, but a formal application was only just filed with the village Friday, Jan. 19.

The rumor appears to stem from a display inside the store. Architectural renderings of plans for the new store at the site are displayed by the bagging counter. Near those drawings, a petition titled "Help Aldi stay in Saranac Lake" solicits signatures from shoppers and encourages them to show up at the next Development Board meeting on Feb. 6.

Article Photos

A woman walks into the Aldi supermarket in Saranac Lake on Friday, Jan. 19.
(News photo — Glynis Hart)

However, corporate literature from Aldi explains, "Aldi wants to make your Saranac Lake shopping experience even better," and goes on to detail the store's plans for more space, increased landscaping and reduced environmental impact. It further touts a new design, open ceilings, natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials to be used in the new store.

Store personnel who spoke unofficially said they hope to close the store for no more than two weeks, but the village codes may get in the way.

"That's the first big decision we have to make," said village Development Code Administrator Paul Blaine. "They want to keep the current one operational, which poses some challenges to our building codes."

Blaine said he hadn't heard the rumor of the store potentially closing and said, "I would highly doubt that would ever be."

"I love Aldi's," village Mayor Clyde Rabideau said. "I shop there all the time."

In June 2017, the German-based chain's U.S. corporate headquarters in Illinios announced it was launching a $1.6 billion program to remodel 1,300 stores by 2020, in addition to expanding the number of stores in the U.S.

The village code enforcement office released a statement Friday, stating, "The pre-application was placed on the November board meeting and discussed by all parties, including Aldi. The current proposed structure, and architectural rendering resulted from the discussions with the applicant and represents a significant improvement from the original submission.

"At the December 19, 2017 DB meeting, Aldi was not present, but the project was still discussed and some recommendations were made. Aldi was not present for the January DB meeting, but on January 12, the company resubmitted, via email, a revised and much-improved plan to our codes office."

"Quite frankly," said Blaine, "We hadn't received a completed application yet - I only just received the full application today."

Blaine said the original drawing Aldi submitted was for "a plain box." Saranac Lake's building codes contain architectural design standards aiming to "improve the appearance of commercial areas," as well as to "Discourage strip development strung out in linear fashion along a highway with limited pedestrian access; and prohibit certain architectural styles, such as Mediterranean motifs, Highly ornate Victorian, New England colonial, Caribbean, Southwestern, and Corporate franchise."

The development board alerted Aldi to the village's new building standards, and their engineering firm, Bergman and Associates of Rochester, came back with a new plan.

"The architecture was very important for us," said Blaine.

"It's a much better-looking building," said Blaine. "Working together with Aldi on this, I think we're going to get a better project."

Blaine said it will probably take a few more meetings before the project gets final approval, since the plans have to be first referred to the Essex County Planning Department for review and approval before the village Development Board can approve it. At the next DB meeting, he said, they'll talk about the project but not make decisions.

At the DB board meeting on Feb. 6, a public hearing will be held in reference to the project. The petition on site at the store encourages community members to show up and voice their support.

"It will probably take two meetings," said Blaine. "But they should get the approval either at the second meeting in February or the first one in March, which leaves them plenty of time to start at the beginning of the season."

If necessary, the DB will hold additional public hearings at future dates.

The Development Board is comprised of seven appointed, unpaid members who are independent of the village Board of Trustees and charged with faithfully implementing the village codes in a practical way.

"I'm really looking forward to working with them on the project," said Blaine. "I think it'll be great for the village."



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