Kmart

Mike Jones / The Almanac

Kmart at the McDowell Shops in Peters Township prior to its October closing

A new Aldi grocery store could be coming to Peters Township by late summer or early fall.

The township planning commission on Jan. 9 approved an exterior façade renovation at the former site of longtime McDowell Shops anchor tenant Kmart, which closed in mid-October.

Plans call for Aldi to replace Kmart’s crown-shaped façade with one featuring a sloped roof and abundance of windows for a “more inviting, modern look,” according to Rory Garr, director of real estate for Aldi Inc. in Western Pennsylvania.

Garr told the planning commission the company intends to submit plans by the end of January for the permits necessary to start construction, probably in March. He estimated the project as taking four to six months to complete.

Aldi façade

Aldi’s plans for a new façade as presented to the Peters Township Planning Commission

“These façades tend to take a lot more work, because what’s up there is usually not what we would consider our standard for buildings, and we build the entire front of the wall,” he said.

Plans call for Aldi to take up about 22,000 square feet of the 90,000 square feet formerly occupied by Kmart. Other tenants could move into the remaining space.

“In the interior, we will be spending a sizable amount of capital to make it look like a prototypical Aldi store, including energy-efficient everything, from lighting to HVAC to refrigeration systems, to accommodate our full line of Aldi grocery items,” Garr said.

With more than 1,800 stores across the nation, Aldi is in the midst of an accelerated growth plan, investing more than $5.3 billion to remodel and expand its store count to 2,500 by the end of 2022, according to the company, which was founded in Germany and has operated in the United States since 1976.

Garr said that Aldi has completed renovations of two former Kmarts in Rostraver and East Huntingdon townships, Westmoreland County. The latter is scheduled to open Jan. 17.

Planning commission member Jeff Mills commented on the new store’s potential impact on the road system near the McDowell Shops, which is located along Route 19 near several other retail complexes, including Donaldson’s Crossroads next door.

“I recognize that Kmart was a much larger store, but the reality: It didn’t draw anybody. It was always dead there,” Mills said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Aldi gets more traffic than Kmart, at 22,000 square feet.”

The project is not subject to the township’s traffic impact fee, which is imposed only on new developments.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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