Last week officials from Mount Ephraim along with architect and developer Peter Lazaropoulos provided an update on the LIDL grocery project, which is planned to take over the former Sacred Heart Church and School property.
This project has been talked about for a few years and gained local media coverage particularly at South Jersey Observer, but I believe this is the first time the town put out a more official “LIDL is coming” announcement.
Additionally this week commissioner George Gies wrote a special guest article at the Gloucester City News, also describing the update. That article also included an announcement photo featuring the mayor, commissioners and the architect/developer of the project.
For my coverage, a few days ago I spoke with the Mayor Tovinsky.
To be clear, this is still very early in the development phase but the town and developer state that after some initial details around property acquisitions and other aspects, things are moving forward.
While LIDL officials were not on hand for the announcement, successful South Jersey developer and architect Peter Lazaropoulos shared the architectural renderings for the project which show the development taking over the full property of the church school as well as a few adjacent residential properties
Mr Lazarapoulis is very accomplished architect and developer in South Jersey having successfully designed and developed a $30 million project in Evesham on Route 73 which included a new LA Fitness and other retail buildings. He also was part of the group who redeveloped the Westmont Theater into a Planet Fitness gym.
First off if you’re unfamiliar with LIDL, they are a German based supermarket chain with a model similar to Aldi of focusing on a fewer number of products in an effort to offer discounted prices. LIDL also features an in-house bakery as part of their store design.
In South Jersey they have stores in Glassboro, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, Vineland and Egg Harbor.
Plans are still in the works for locations in Gloucester Township (Blackwood), Somerdale, and Monroe Township. A store in Burlington Township closed this year after being open only 3 years.
Absolutely LIDL has moved slowly on their expansion through South Jersey, as these three already approved projects in Blackwood, Somerdale and Williamstown were approved a few years ago and have not seen any development activity.
I do believe they are still planned and have communicated with LIDL USA corporate multiple times… while they do not provide any real details on the delay, I promise I will post my information and observations next week. Please bare with me!
LIDL Mount Ephraim
Local news website South Jersey Observer first wrote about the plans for the legal back in December of 2020, almost three years ago.
At the time the town made a unique move to acquire the church property as an intermediary owner, prior to being resold to LIDL or the developer of the store.
That SJO article explains that the Diocese of Camden was looking to quickly sell the property back in 2020, and while LIDL was (and is) interested in developing the grocery store in Mount Ephraim they were not in the position at the time to commit the capital for the property.
The borough of Mount Ephraim stepped in and purchased the property, so that they could be in better control of what was going to be developed.
According to the South Jersey Observer, the town took ownership of the property two years ago, in August 2021.
Mayor Tovinsky explains to me that one of the delays in getting to this stage was negotiating with adjacent property owners so that LIDL would have the acreage required to develop the store and parking area.
To that end the corner Pizza Shop / Restaurant will remain in it’s location and the LIDL store will be developed on the entirety of the former church property, and a small number of residential property acquisitions.
The Mayor says those other property acquisitions are already in process with the final proposals sent out.
From the rendering provided by the Mayor, the LIDL building will be positioned to the back corner of the property (furthest form the intersection of Kings Highway and Black Horse Pike).
There would access to the parking lot from Buckingham Ave and an inbound (right turn) entrance from the Black Horse Pike.
Likely Kings Highway will also have a full entrance but the cropped image does not make that clear.
But this project still has to go through a full Zoning/Planning review.
It seems that Mount Ephraim’s most recent conversations for the LIDL prohject have been via the developer, who tells the town that LIDL is very excited to become a part of the community, and expects it to be a very successful location.
It’s still very difficult to pinpoint a timeline for this although things are moving forward, after delays regarding property acquisition and other aspects.. and as mentioned there are town Zoning approvals, and likely County and State approvals related to driveway road access.
Another factor in the timing is, as mentioned LIDL has seemed to of put a temporary hold on development and South Jersey, and in fact has closed TWO New Jersey stores including a location in Burlington. The Burlington Store had only been open for three years!
While the Cinnaminson store opened 18 months ago, the other three approved locations haven’t started development. LIDL in fact has already acquired the properties for Somerdale and Blackwood at a cost of around $3 million each!
I do have corporate contacts with LIDL USA who I’ve communicated with multiple times regarding the status of their planned South Jersey locations… but I’m basically getting the standard corporate answer of “awaiting local approvals”
That being said I do have several factors that fit into the story to help explain why they are temporarily holding, but I’ll save that for a separate article this week. I know, I know.. I’ve been promising an update for a long time. I’ll get to it this week.
Links and Location
LIDL Mount Ephraim – Planned
Kings Highway and Black Horse Pike
Mount Ephraim NJ