MONROE, CT — A developer wants to build an Aldi grocery store behind the Panera Bread Café at Town Line Plaza, 205 Monroe Turnpike. The conceptual plan for the site, which also has a Noble gas station and convenience store, also includes a future 10,000-square-foot medical building.
The design for the 20,844-square-foot grocery store came before the Architectural Review Board Tuesday night.
“It’s everything you get at a typical grocery store for a lot less and it’s easier to shop,” said Bruno Lourenco, director of real estate for Aldi.
The Albrecht Family founded the world’s first discount grocery store in Germany in 1961, and opened its first Aldi store in Iowa 16 years later, according to its website. Today, Aldi’s headquarters is in Batavia, Ill., and the chain has grown to more than 2,000 stores across 36 states with over 25,000 employees.
On Tuesday, Lourenco presented the plan for a Monroe store with Matt Baldino, assistant project manager with Solli Engineering in Monroe, and Luke Mauro, a senior project manager with the firm.
The highest point of the building is a light gray color and includes the sign above the glass doors at the main entrance. Lower portions are brick face to either side, then there is Nichiha fiber cement exterior cladding with a dark VintageWood bark color, before it goes back to brick face.
ARB Chairman Raymond Ganser asked Lourenco if Aldi could alter its corporate color scheme. “It looks very dull on the west, north and east sides,” he said. “The front looks great and I love the gray.”
“It looks like a prison to me,” said Cathleen Lindstrom, a board member.
Ganser asked if they could have light gray trim along the top of the building, matching the part over the entrance to “give it some life.”
Lourenco said they could include a gray band along the top of the building.
“We’ve been trying hard to incorporate a look in Monroe that might not be the same in other places,” Lindstrom said, adding of the design, “is this it? Is there an alternative we could look at?”
Lourenco said there is no alternative, though they could come up with something else for the board to look at.
“This is a really modern looking supermarket,” Lindstrom said. “We go for a traditional look.”
Fellow board member, Alayna Falco, pointed out that a modern building was approved for Panera on the same site. “You want it to look a little like Panera, so it’s not out of place,” she said.
Lindstrom asked if the applicant considered solar.
“All of our buildings are solar ready,” Lourenco said. “It’s something we would consider for Monroe, but I can’t commit to solar. Panels are something that need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.”
William Holsworth, the town’s director of Community and Economic Development, asked if the parking lot would have electric charging stations.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Rick Schultz said it is a state requirement and Baldino said the parking lot would be big enough to require EV charging stations.
Holsworth said a few residents have asked his department about getting more charging stations in town.
“We don’t have any stores with EV charging now,” Lourenco said. “We need to make sure we have the power we need for a freezer and A/C running — and have power to charge cars.”
Lindstrom asked about the landscaping plan.
Baldino said it includes an evergreen buffer along the property line bordering residential properties, with additional landscaping in front of the building.
Mauro said landscaped islands break up the pavement in the parking lot, with a wide landscape island dividing different uses on the site.
Lindstrom asked about the timetable for construction, once all of the necessary approvals are obtained. A special permit application will come before the Planning and Zoning Commission on June 1.
“We’re ready to go,” Lourenco said. “We’re a privately held company. We have money in hand to build the store once we get through the approval process. It usually takes 20 to 22 weeks for construction.”
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