National grocery store chain plans new Meriden location

MERIDEN — Aldi supermarket has plans to open a store on the Chamberlain Highway, filling a gap on the west side left by the closing last fall of the Stop & Shop in Centennial Plaza.

The grocery chain, which opened its first store in the U.S. in 1976, is known for low prices in a no-frills setting.

Mayor Kevin Scarpati announced the plans on his Facebook page, saying the store is expected to open in spring 2022.

“The city’s economic development director has been working to secure a location for Aldi on the west side of Meriden,” the post said. “They have selected a location on Chamberlain Highway. More details and information will be available in the weeks and months ahead, but this is certainly great news for our City and residents.”

Scarpati did not return a call for further comment. Aldi representatives could not be reached.

“It’s always good news when more businesses come to Meriden,” said City Councilor Michael Rohde, chairman of the council’s Economic Development, Housing and Zoning Committee. “Aldi is a good store. This will be good particularly for the residents on the west side.”

Scarpati’s post did not include the proposed store’s address, which could not immediately be confirmed. But an online commercial listing for Eastern Retail Properties indicates an Aldi store is proposed for 495 Chamberlain Highway, the former Savers thrift store near the Meriden Mall, across the street from Target.

Savers, a secondhand retail chain, closed in November 2019 after nearly a decade at that location.

Company expansion

Aldi currently has locations at 1248 S. Broad St. in Wallingford and 811 Queen St. in Southington.

The Wallingford store opened more than 20 years ago and was renovated and expanded in 2019, as part of an aggressive expansion plan by the international retailer. The Southington store opened in 2017.

Aldi now has more than 2,000 stores across 36 states including 29 stores in Connecticut, the most recent opening in Fairfield in July, according to the Connecticut Post.

Aldi had announced in February it would open approximately 100 new locations nationwide this year as it strives to become the third largest U.S. grocery retailer based on store count by the end of 2022, the Post reported.

West side

Residents on Meriden’s west side had wanted the city to lure another grocery store to Centennial Plaza after a Stop & Shop location in the plaza closed in November.

The Stop & Shop was eventually replaced by a self-storage business, which required a variance approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals earlier this year. That decision drew criticism from residents and Scarpati, who called for a review of zoning regulations.

Scarpati said at the time he and Economic Development Director Joseph Feest had contacted several grocery store operators, even some from out of state, but only had the power to refer them to the property owner. He did not name the grocery chains they spoke with.

“We can only do so much, we can’t negotiate leases,” Scarpati told the Record-Journal in January. “We certainly set up several conversations but they were unsuccessful in landing a tenant for a number of reasons. I think there were a number of factors.”

Reaction, campaign

The announcement on Facebook, posted Friday, had more than 150 comments as of Saturday afternoon, with one commenter stating “I’ve never been more excited about a grocery store in my life.”

Another comment read: “I would have preferred a Trader Joe’s, but it’s great for the West Side to have a food market in the area.”

Scarpati is seeking his fourth consecutive two-year term as mayor, running as an unaffiliated candidate with the Democratic endorsement. Republican challenger Elain Cariati said Saturday the effort to bring another supermarket to Meriden has been in the works for about a year and a half and it is “commendable” what Feest is doing as economic development director.

“I think it is absolutely fantastic,” Cariarti said. “I know the residents of Meriden on the west side are ecstatic.”

fwilliams@record-journal.com203-317-2373Twitter: @faith_williams2

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