A resolution on the Feb. 15 City Council agenda to approve a recommendation from the Greensboro Redevelopment Commission to sell part of the Union Square campus for a stand-alone grocery store is getting pushback from a prominent downtown developer.
The proposal is to sell 734 South Elm St. to Lidl US Operations LLC “for the purpose of developing and building a grocery store of between 25,000 and 36,000 square feet, with at least 100 parking spaces.”
The site plan included in the agenda packet shows a surface parking lot on the corner of South Elm Street and Gate City Boulevard with the grocery store further south on the lot.
Andy Zimmerman of AZ Development, which owns The Gateway building across Gate City Boulevard as well as number of other properties in the area, said, “I’m not against Lidl, but a stand-alone grocery store and surface parking is not what is needed in this area.”
Zimmerman said that he had been discussing the development of that piece of property with the city and had been told that any development had to include a residential component.
He said his proposal for the property, which he has discussed with the city and the Redevelopment Commission, would include apartments and a grocery store, as well as other retail and much needed parking for the area.
Zimmerman said, “There is a person out there with a petition claiming that I am trying to block that project and I don’t want a Lidl store there. That is not the truth.”
He said, “The truth is that out of weakness and despair, the city planning department and the Redevelopment Commission have struck a bad deal with Lidl.”
Zimmerman said that if the property was developed as a stand-alone grocery store with surface parking that the parking problems that already exist in the area would only get worse.
Zimmerman said, “My point is not that Lidl is not the right grocery store, but that it needs to be a part of a bigger development that benefits not just Lidl but the entire area. A surface parking lot is not what we need.”
Zimmerman said the agreement with Lidl that was being proposed allowed Lidl five years to develop the property, but also included two options that could allow the property to be undeveloped for as long as 15 years.
Zimmerman said he was prepared to move forward with his plan for developing the property that would include residential, a grocery store – which could be Lidl – other retail development and parking that would help solve the parking issues in the area, and he said he wasn’t asking for participation from the city.
He said, “It would be transformational for the area and a surface parking lot is not transformational.”