An unnamed grocer wants the keys to an eastern Henrico car dealership as part of a project that could bring another new player to the Richmond grocery market.
Henrico County is reviewing plans for a new 28,000-square-foot grocery store development at 5110 S. Laburnum Ave.
While the site plan does not reference a particular store brand, at least five local commercial real estate brokers said the size requirement lines up with stores that European grocer Lidl is looking to build along the East Coast.
Lidl is a German discount grocer that rivals Aldi, another European retailer that is moving into the Richmond market with two announced stores of its own.
Lidl has been working on its American expansion and had initially planned 100 stores in the United States as early as 2015. But media reports in the spring said that those plans would be pushed back.
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer market reports from the first and second quarter of this year in Hampton Roads have said both Aldi and Lidl are looking for space in that market.
And while several other grocery brands are expanding in Richmond, Thalhimer broker Connie Jordan Nielsen said a 28,000-square-foot footprint points to the German retailer.
“They’re coming to Richmond,” Nielsen said, echoing what several other local brokers know of Lidl’s interests. “It’s just a matter of when.”
The plans for the Laburnum Avenue project were submitted to Henrico County on Sept. 18. The property is currently an active Bill Talley Ford dealership. It’s a 4.63-acre piece of land with a 38-year-old, 19,000-square-foot building.
A brief project description filed at the Henrico County Planning Department says the project involves “demolition of the existing Bill Talley Ford Dealership and the construction of a new 28,000-square-foot grocery store and associated parking lot improvements.”
William Talley, the dealership’s owner, declined to comment on the status of the property or what he plans to do with his Laburnum operations if the grocery store were to build on the site.
The grocery project would still need various approvals from the county to move forward.
County records show Talley also owns the parcel immediately south of the proposed grocery site at 5250 S. Laburnum Ave. That property is not referenced in the grocery store plans.
Any grocery store that builds on the Talley property certainly would not lack for competition. There is a Kroger about a quarter-mile away from the site and a Food Lion a mile and a half to the west on Williamsburg Road.
Around the region, Walmart Neighborhood Market is moving in with stores in excess of 40,000 square feet in Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover counties. Aldi is building 17,000-square-foot stores in Henrico County and Colonial Heights. And Wegmans has two stores planned in the area, both of which will be more than 100,000 square feet.
But a Lidl could still carve out a market for itself, Nielsen said, even surrounded by other food stores.
“No one is going to go into an Aldi or Lidl and do all of their grocery shopping, they’re going to do Kroger or they’re going to do Whole Foods,” Nielsen said. “Trader Joe’s is extremely successful right across from an extremely successful Kroger, an extremely successful Martin’s or an extremely successful Whole Foods.”