Aldi buys land on Highway 102 for Bentonville store

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 10,880 views 

German discount grocery chain Aldi Inc. has purchased land in Bentonville to open a new store.

The company paid $901,658 for two lots totaling 2.72 acres near the northwest corner of the Highway 102/Southwest I Street intersection in Bentonville.

Aldi bought the land from SWM Trust LLC, which is registered to Fayetteville attorney Dick Levin. SWM Trust acquired the land from an LLC controlled by philanthropist Johnelle Hunt for $650,000 before flipping the property to Aldi, according to county real estate records. The deeds for both deals were filed April 24 at the Benton County Courthouse.

City planners have already approved Aldi’s large-scale development plan to build a 22,000-square-foot grocery store at the site. The discount grocery chain currently has nine stores in Arkansas, including Northwest Arkansas locations in Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale.

Aldi is considered a grocery competitor of Bentonville-based Walmart Inc., the largest grocer in the U.S., and is growing its footprint. As part of a $3.4 billion investment announced last summer, the company plans to expand to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022. Aldi currently has more than 1,750 stores in 35 states, serving more than 40 million customers each month.

The expansion would make Aldi the No. 3 grocery chain operator in the U.S. behind Walmart and Kroger, the company chain said. Aldi’s 2,500 stores would equal a little more than half of Walmart’s U.S. outlets. Aldi builds stores that are smaller than typical supermarkets, and about 90% percent of its products are Aldi exclusive brands.

Building a new store in Walmart’s backyard — the site is less than one mile from the Walmart Home Office — doesn’t go without notice, but Aldi Vice President Mark Bersted said several factors are discussed when choosing store locations.

“We want the best sites that are closest to our shoppers and can support a high daily traffic volume,” Bersted wrote in an email. “As the demand for Aldi continues to grow, so do our real estate options. Bottom line, we want to be conveniently located for our shoppers.”

According to state transportation figures, 35,000 vehicles per day travel Highway 102 between Centerton and Walton Boulevard in Bentonville. Bersted did not say when construction of the store would begin.

The Highway 102/Southwest I Street intersection in Bentonville is slated for multiple large-scale developments in the coming months. The land at the southeast corner of the intersection is owned by an LLC controlled by the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), and the majority of the property is being planned for development into a 70-acre nature preserve project called Osage Prairie Park. The development plan for the public park has been filed with city planners and will be considered May 15.

Two separate projects on the WFF land — a 21,600-square-foot microbrewery for Bentonville Brewing Co. and Climb Bentonville, a 22,000-square-foot indoor climbing, fitness and yoga facility — have already been approved and are in various stages of development.

At the northwest corner of the Highway 102/Southwest I Street intersection, east of the Aldi land, a 24,000-square-foot, Class A office building that formerly housed vendor offices for Newell Rubbermaid is for sale. The two-story building is also owned by an LLC controlled by Johnelle Hunt.