The German discount grocer Lidl has killed its plan to open a store at Sandy Springs’ North River Shopping Center following community and city staff opposition. It also withdrew from a contract for another local store that was not as far along in the planning process.

Stream Realty Partners, the developer working with Lidl, filed a notice of the plan’s withdrawal on April 11 “due to the proposed grocery store terminating its contract to buy the land,” according to a city planning memo.

A detail of the design for the Lidl grocery store planned for the North River Shopping Center in Sandy Springs, as shown in a city rezoning application.

“Officials from the city of Sandy Springs made it clear they were trying to prevent Lidl from opening in the city,” said Simon Arpiarian, Stream’s co-managing partner.

As part of its U.S. debut, Lidl also was eyeing another Stream-owed Sandy Springs location, the Marshall’s Plaza at 6337 Roswell Road. Arpiarian said Lidl withdrew from a contract to purchase a store location at that site as well.

Lidl’s U.S. branch headquarters did not respond to questions about its withdrawal or whether it will seek other local store sites.

City filings show the Lidl plan for North River, at 8877 Roswell Road in northern Sandy Springs, got blasted for being out of step with the mixed-use, higher-end, pedestrian-friendly goals of the city’s new land-use plan.

Lack of transparency was another concern; Lidl didn’t send its own representatives to community meetings, swore its Stream partners to secrecy, and for months wouldn’t confirm or deny its intended entry into Sandy Springs. Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods leaders praised Stream and Lidl for working to give Sandy Springs better-looking stores. But they also expressed concern that city officials proposed a largely unexplained zoning change allowing bigger grocery stores in the downtown area that would have benefited Lidl, yet did not name it.

Stream had a rocky appearance before the city Planning Commission last month, and city zoning package contains dozens of criticisms from residents, including the head of the nearby Huntcliff Homes Association.

“Adding a big-box discounter, particularly with its larger footprint, caters to who Sandy Springs was, not who it aspires to be,” wrote Huntcliff resident Suzanne Durbin in an email to city officials.

Another critic was Carolyn Axt, an influential member of the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. ““Let’s hold off for what this area really can be – a jewel for Sandy Springs,” she wrote to Mayor Rusty Paul and other officials.

Lidl and its discount grocery competitor Aldi, also based in Germany, are pushing to expand internationally. The Marshall’s Plaza site is directly across the street from an existing Aldi.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

6 replies on “German grocer Lidl kills proposed Sandy Springs store”

  1. So Sandy Springs wants only the elite, business executives, Mercedes Benz but not a store that would give us food choices from Europe where we spend time and do business.

    Susan Durban, living behind a gate, says no. Ms. Anxt an alleged business leader says no, it’s not good enough. Ladies if you want to live an isolationists life surrounded by Rodeo drive then just move to that place, it’s called Aspen. They bus in workers from a zip code away, gates on driveways a plenty. Why are you here if only to turn Sandy Springs into another world the two of you can’t afford?

  2. This area DOESN’T need another discount grocer…There is a Publix and Kroger less than a mile away from this location.

    A “green” grocery store like Sprouts, Whole Food’s 360 would be more ideal.

    I’m glad the city listened to it’s residents because​ this plan went against EVERYTHING the “The Next Ten” planned for.

    1. Publix and Kroger, same thing. What was pushed aside was diversity of choice to the diverse mix of a growing population. Why are so many driving to the global market on Buford Hwy? Choice beyond an in house label. Doesn’t get any better or “green” than the market on Buford.

      Whole Foods? How many efforts at a credit card that works before realizing WholeFoods is as beyond an individuals affordability as the wallet of maxed out credit cards and debt that goes along with it shows?

        1. Well- Whole Foods has stated that their 365 brand is not as successful as they expected and are slowing down the expansion of both brands and even closing some stores (Augusta). I cant imagine that Whole Foods would put in a 365 a block away from an existing Whole Foods …???? Plus take a look at a 365, they are bare bone just like Aldi, but with a brand that everyone knows and loves. Other “green” grocers dont compete head-to-head, generally. Sprouts backed out of Chamblee because of Whole Foods.

          Maybe the perception of what Lidl is to be in the US is clouded? From what I have read, they are looking to be more upscale than Aldi, however, come from a heavy discount past in Europe. Remember that Trader Joe’s is owned by Aldi, so the thought of doing upscale is not unique to Germans. Do you really think they could afford to buy a prime piece of property in the heart of Sandy Springs and expect to pay it off with Aldi’s volume of turnover?

          1. I think you are confused about where this site is located. It’s not in the City Springs. This site is in the North part of Sandy Springs. Whole Foods is several miles away from this location.

            Regardless, this area was said to have street lined mixed use housing and retail. The big-box style being presented for this store does not fit with the expected zoning.

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