It appears the desire for a grocery store in a food desert may trump any concerns about parking and downtown development at the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

The item on the agenda for approval by the City Council is the sale by the Redevelopment Commission of Greensboro of about 3 acres on the southwest corner of Gate City Boulevard and South Elm Street to Lidl US Operations.

According to the sales agreement, Lidl would have up to five years to start construction of a 25,000- to 36,000-square-foot grocery store and a parking lot of at least 100 spaces on that site.

At-large Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I’m for it and I do want to preface that by saying that I certainly hope it won’t take five years.”

She said, “I realize that ideally we would have rather had apartments, but the majority of the emails and texts I’ve received had said we really need this grocery store.”

Abuzuaiter said, “There are a lot of pros and cons but it would really help the people in the surrounding area who are in a food desert.”

She said, “Right now I feel that the votes are there to approve it, but you never know.  I’m interested to see what Andy [Zimmerman] has to say.”  

Downtown developer Andy Zimmerman of AZ Development, which owns the Gateway Building across Gate City Boulevard from the site, has said, “I’m not against Lidl, but a stand-alone grocery store and surface parking is not what is needed in this area.”

Zimmerman has said that the site should have more intense development that would include a grocery store as well as other retail development, residential and parking that would help solve the parking issues in the area.

Eric Robert, who has announced he is running for mayor and owns the The Mill south of the site, is an outspoken proponent of the Lidl development plan.

The city has worked on the development of this property for years, which is further complicated by the fact that because of the past uses, it is a “brownfield” site.