MONROE, CT — Thomas Schinella, of United Properties, remembers working with his father, Michael Schinella Sr., to find a grocery store as part of an ambitious plan to find a new tenant to complement Panera Bread and the Noble gas station at Town Line Plaza, 205 Monroe Turnpike.
On Friday afternoon, the father and son team joined public officials in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Aldi grocery store.
“It’s amazing,” Thomas said, reflecting on the nine years of work to make the plaza a food and retail destination. “We worked with Trader Joe’s and ShopRite — Aldi was definitely the best option.”
Thomas said Trader Joe’s just looks at the zip code and wanted to be in Trumbull, which is stone’s throw away from Town Line Plaza.
“They made a mistake. Panera‘s been doing great numbers and Aldi will do really well in this town,” he said. “They’re going to draw from all the surrounding markets. Everyone’s excited to have them and they’re excited about Monroe. It will definitely be a great addition to Monroe.”
Fred Lachioma, of 205 Monroe Turnpike LLC, is in charge of hiring the subcontractors for construction of the 19,677-square-foot grocery store with 169 parking spaces and landscaping to enhance the property.
He said earthwork should take about four months to complete with another six months for construction, depending upon the weather. The goal is to open the new store by October of 2024.
The site has piping and power for future electric vehicle charging stations, according to Lachioma.
The grocery store will be built behind the Panera Bread Café on a site, which also has conceptual approval of a 10,000-square-foot medical office building, though the market will dictate its ultimate use.
Shovels in the ground
On Friday, the Schinellas took part in the groundbreaking ceremony with Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg, first selectman elect Terry Rooney, State Rep. Tony Scott, R-Monroe, Community and Economic Development Director William “Bill” Holsworth, Monroe Chamber of Commerce member Lee Hossler, Kevin Solli, principal of Solli Engineering, and Monroe Fire Chief Kevin Catalano.
“I am overjoyed that Aldi’s is one step closer to being a reality in Monroe,” Kellogg said. “It’s going to be an outstanding addition to the different grocery store options in town. Many residents who approached me told me how eager they are for Aldi to open a store in Monroe. I think it will be a great success here. People going outside of town to shop at Aldi are happy to have it in town.”
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.
Bruno Lourenco, director of real estate for Aldi, said the chain has 31 stores in Connecticut with three more planned.
Michael Schinella noted how most people who attend zoning hearings come to speak against an application, while those who favor, or have no problem with it, usually stay home.
“I was surprised to see, as a developer, people speaking in favor of Aldi,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see it’s well received. It makes me proud as a developer to see we’re adding a top of the line tenant that’s embraced by the community.”
“Michael’s been a large investor in our town in terms of quality businesses,” Rooney said. “I’m happy to have an Aldi’s coming to town, because it will help citizens who are budget conscious and residents living on fixed incomes with more affordable options.”
Solli, whose Monroe firm represented United Properties at the zoning hearing for Aldi, said, “it’s great to see progress coming to Monroe. I’m happy to be part of it.”
“This project is another smart business development for the town of Monroe,” Scott said. “All I’ve heard is positive things about Aldi, and I think when this is done, by next fall people will be excited to shop there.”
All respectful comments with the commenter’s first and last name are welcome.