Low-cost grocery chain seemingly shelves plans for anticipated Austin-area store
Back in 2017, city leaders in Kyle rezoned a nearly 4.6-acre site to pave the way for a new Lidl grocery store. The rezoning came on the heels of the low-cost grocer carting out grand plans for a Texas expansion.
But in the three years since the Kyle project got the green light, there is no Lidl store. And, in fact, there are no Lidl stores open or under construction in the Austin area or elsewhere in Texas. Recent media reports indicate Lidl is selling 15 undeveloped sites in Dallas-Fort Worth and selling three undeveloped sites in the San Antonio area. Plans for stores in the Houston area haven’t materialized, either.
It appears the Kyle site was the only location that Lidl had nailed down in the Austin area.
William Atkinson, city planner for the City of Kyle, says the suburb’s proposed Lidl site — at the northwest corner of Marketplace Avenue and FM 1626 South — had undergone a preliminary site plan after the land was rezoned.
“However, the applicant never continued with the development process,” Atkinson tells CultureMap. “We never heard back from them. We’re not sure why.”
Sheldon-Tanglewood Ltd., a real estate broker and the property's owner, applied for the zoning change in 2017. Since then, the City of Kyle has not received any new zoning requests for the property, according to Atkinson. A representative of Sheldon-Tanglewood couldn’t be reached for comment.
Asked about Lidl’s plans for Kyle and the rest of Texas, company spokeswoman Chandler Ebeier tells CultureMap: “I do not have information to share regarding our real estate portfolio. What I can tell you is that our strategic focus is our expansion along the East Coast, where we are opening new stores and warehouses, and further developing our operational infrastructure to support our growth within this geography.”
The German-based Lidl now operates about 100 stores in the U.S. after making its stateside debut in 2017. Each Lidl store ranges in size from 14,000 to 21,000 square feet, according to Today.com.
Food industry analyst Phil Lempert says that when he chatted with a Lidl representative about six months ago, they indicated the grocer aimed to boost its presence in U.S. markets where it already operates before competing against grocery rival Aldi in new markets (like Texas).
News of the potential Kyle store in 2017 came amid a burst of buzz in Texas about Lidl and Aldi, another low-cost grocery chain based in Germany. While Aldi has moved forward with adding stores in the Lone Star State, Lidl seems to have halted — or at least dramatically dialed back — its purported Texas expansion.
Along the East Coast, Lidl recently has built a network of distribution warehouses that could support at least 1,500 stores, according to the Progressive Grocer trade publication. In May 2019, Lidl said it planned to open 25 stores in seven East Coast states by this spring.
“We are committed to long-term growth in the United States and always strive to locate in the most convenient locations for our shoppers,” Johannes Fieber, CEO of Lidl US LLC, said in a 2019 news release.