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Filling In: Aldi

March 16th, 2015

Winton Village Aldi Rendering
By Matthew Denker

Welcome back, readers. As you know, we’ve previously discussed things to do with Tops should Aldi be built at Winton Road and Blossom Road. There’s also been a discussion about how the construction of Aldi went in Irondequoit. Today, I’d like to take a look at a few reasonably simple changes that would completely change the tenor of the proposed development…

Aldi Site Plan
Just for starters, the current Aldi plan looks like this. I’ve seen worse plans, certainly, but for a store being built in an urban environment, there are some glaring issues to this proposal. Let’s cover each of them incrementally, and talk some numbers about what this would really mean for the Aldi proposal going forward.

1. Addressing Winton Road

Aldi Addressing Winton Road
The store must absolutely do a better job of addressing Winton Road. Like the other buildings on the street, it should be built to the sidewalk. This would actually cost less to do, based on shorter utility runs from the street to the store. I’ve been told to estimate about $500 a foot for utility runs of this nature. We’ve moved the building 42 feet towards Winton Road, which means we’ve now saved $21,000. This is good, because we’re about to go spending some of it.

2. Addressing Blossom Road

Aldi Addressing Blossom Road
Blossom Road should not be relegated to a street of all curb cuts and nothing to shield or interest a pedestrian (think University Ave past Blossom). Many of the people using the new store, and who already shop at the developments here, walk from the blocks of Floverton, Marion, Middlesex, and Arbordale. I’m not looking to squeeze anyone too hard so this might be a great spot for a piece of shipping container retail. I’ve priced out a number of installations, and it could be done all in for $250/sqft. Since a shipping container is 160 sqft, that’s $40,000.

3. Accommodating People on Buses

Aldi Accommodating People on Buses
Currently the nearest bus stops to the new store are south, in front of Tops, and north at Balsam Street. Aldi should build a bus shelter along with their building. Here’s one external link one for $8,792.

4. Accommodating People on Bikes

Aldi Accommodating People on Bikes
A store of this size should have the ability to support at least 10 cyclists. Based on the new siting of the store, the best place for these bikes is off Winton Road with a new ramp from the street. Five of these 2-bike external link posts could be installed for an additional cost of $695.

5. Accommodating People in Cars

The current plan is woefully inadequate for addressing placement of snow in inclement weather. I hate to be presumptive, but I would bet the snow will get plowed right over the wall and onto the Winton Road sidewalk if the originally proposed plan is built. Even if it does not, multiple parking spaces will be removed for snow clearing six months out of the year with the current plan. This change is addressed for free in the re-siting of the building (and thus not shown in a new diagram).

6. Addressing Delivery Flow

Aldi Addressing Delivery Flow
The current plan poorly addresses the flow of delivery trucks through the site as well. I will wager that Aldi, like most businesses, would have a full sized semi deliver to the store. The reconfigured layout allows for trucks to come down Blossom Road from 590, turn into Aldi, back into the loading dock, then pull out, turning right onto Winton Road and left onto Blossom Road to return to 590. The cost of this reconfiguration would be negligible and almost entirely accounted for by the re-siting.

Let’s tally everything up and see what happens. That’s right, it’s only $28,500 to make a huge change in the neighborhood (and that’s before the revenue stream coming from the additional retail available for a small business – which at $20/sqft would be another $250/mo to offset the costs of the design changes). The average Aldi does $23,300 of business a day, for comparison. Additionally, this maintains the basic setup of the site without foisting extra floors of apartments or anything crazy that would jeopardize project funding. In fact, the current plan has 73 parking spots. And, as much as that seems outrageous for a store that is only 17,000 sqft (that means each car parked gets 232 sqft of store), the revised plan preserves all of the spaces (in fact there are 8 more for the additional retail).

I am not looking to pass judgment on Aldi as a company (although they pay their employees better than almost any other store, and they happen to own Trader Joe’s, a grocery store nobody would argue with opening). I am also not in the business of deciding if the market can support another grocery store in the area (although it very likely can). What I do think, though, is that they can do just a little bit and be a much better neighbor for North Winton Village.

• • •

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015 at 12:30 am and is filed under Architecture, Rochester News, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

23 Responses to “Filling In: Aldi”

  1. Carlos Mercado says:

    Is it too late to speak with the City and the Aldi people about these plans?

  2. Nate Wenzel says:

    If it is possible they should flip that whole plan to bring it up to the curb.
    Also, on the topic of Aldi lets try and attract them to the old Blockbuster building off of Monroe Ave. Hopefully there is not a non-compete clause with the General Dollar on the corner. I can’t see that would be a problem though considering one has fresh produce and the other doesn’t. The parking lot is large enough for trucks to load and unload as well and it’s easy to exit. Just some food for thought in case anyone out there is listening :)

  3. 1.) It is not – they have not even gone to ZBA yet.
    2.) This is at least the second time I have heard this. I see two issues with the idea – first, the blockbuster is only about 6,000sf, but they are trying to build a 17,000sf store and second, there are about 84 parking spots there for 3 separate businesses, whereas they are trying to get nearly that many spots for themselves at Winton.

  4. Powers says:

    The Aldi that owns U.S. Aldi stores isn’t the Aldi that owns Trader Joe’s.

    Once upon a time, there were two brothers, who inherited their father’s grocery store. They built it into a chain, then split it geographically into Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud. They are now two completely separate companies and each has its own international footprint.

    They both, however, operate in the United States. How? Aldi Sud had the rights to use the “Aldi” name in the U.S., so Aldi Nord had to come up with something else. They ended up buying the burgeoning Trader Joe’s chain in order to get in on the U.S. market.

    So Trader Joe’s has no relationship to Aldi grocery stores in the U.S., except that their current owners’ companies were founded by brothers who split the original Aldi brand.

  5. The wikipedia about the whole thing is even more mesmerizing still, thank you for the heads up. I will work on some kind of edit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi

  6. John L says:

    I’m still very disappointed that Jim’s Restaurant may be in jeopardy…it’s not glamorous, but it’s been my favorite breakfast joint for the 20+ years I’ve been going there. The prices are great, and they have the best coffee cake. I haven’t seen much comment on this in the Nextdoor.com forums…but I’d be sad to see them go. Unless the Tops bulldozer project came to fruition first, I’m not jumping out of my bones to have this in our neighborhood.

  7. I tend to agree that Jim’s would be a real loss. I hope that they move, as has been rumored.

  8. kmannkoopa says:

    Some of the inside baseball that I have heard is that Aldi actually did make an earnest attempt to meet with the neighborhood. They met with a committee from the North Winton Neighborhood to come up with a design for the store. How it was chosen and what meetings were held is outside my info.

    The problem seemed to be that the neighborhood group didn’t pass on the information from their meetings to the wider neighborhood. Then when the design they developed together was presented to the public it didn’t seem to meet what the people wanted.

    This kind of grassroots development is quite hard, even if the developer has good intentions.

    As a counterpoint, I’ll use the Highland Hospital Expansion in my neighborhood. A select committee from Highland Park, SWPC, BASWA, and Lilac neighbors are meeting with the hospital monthly, and every 3 months or so the Hospital holds a wider meeting with the public. Here in the Highland Park neighborhood, most updates are then distributed to the wider neighborhood through Facebook and email. Even with all of this we still get people who complain that the hospital isn’t informing anyone about what is going on.

  9. Nellie says:

    Nicely done! Thank you for addressing pedestrian and bicyclist access on your interesting Aldi posts over the past few weeks. I live about a half mile from this site and much prefer your proposed layout. Now, if only the Tops property could be reconfigured like you outlined…what a dream! If I had a Massage Envy, TJ Maxx, Chipotle and an ice cream shop, I would never need to leave the neighborhood again! lol

  10. Rick says:

    For a large company like Aldi, taking a prototype store and dropping it onto a site is way, way cheaper than re-engineering a store for each site. Arch and engineering fees can easily run into 7 figures for a new store but dropping a prototype is a small fraction of the cost; not to mention the months of time to re-engineer. When you build dozens of stores a year, these are serious costs and time is money…. As I work at a local A/E firm who plays in this market, I would like to see some stores look better, but the costs and time are not as simple it seems when reading some articles. But we can keep hoping….

  11. Rick, i’m sympathetic to the idea that re-engineering a store design could cost a fortune, but that’s why I propose no such thing. It’s literally a case of siting, something they must have to do on every one of these projects anyway. It’s not like all Aldi stores are wrapped around a gas station or something. Since this project needs to go before ZBA anyway, they’re already non-compliant, so it’s also not like their standard design is of-right and I’m asking them to change to something that requires variances. And if it costs seven figures to site a store and do a code check each time, I’m about to lump architects in with lawyers and accountants as a profession, which I’d hate to do.

  12. John L says:

    If the project must move forward, it absolutely must be placed properly against Winton. Great article, Matthew!

  13. Johan says:

    What do you propose the Winton-facing wall to look like?

    Most Aldi stores I’ve ever seen are four 15′-high boring beige block walls with a corner entrance that includes a few windows.

    I’m not sure that’s a better option for Winton than 10 parking spaces and some trees/shrubs.

  14. So part of the winton facing wall will be the typical glass corner. There will be a curb cut (similar to the current plans), and then the bush shelter and bike racks will be used to break things up. I suppose some benches/plantings along the wall wouldn’t hurt, but the idea was to show that vastly improving the design doesn’t have to be so expensive. Making it a glass wall is likely to raise cost complaints that could justify the poor design choices already in place.

  15. Johan says:

    That’s fair, but what I’m trying to say is that a big wall running along the sidewalk isn’t something I’d consider an improvement. It’s not like we’re talking about retail entrances like those along Monroe or South, nor even the east side of that section of Winton. Your proposition would simply be a giant block wall that would be completely out of place when compared to the character of the other buildings in that area.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@43.149495,-77.553082,3a,75y,32.84h,89.88t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sTCtyywShqVEbDZqBA3tVww!2e0

    I’m all for bringing buildings up to the sidewalk, but it’s only a smart choice if those buildings also include entrances on the sidewalk. You may as well build self-storage buildings and warehouses, as you’re essentially accomplishing the same thing from the pedestrian’s point of view.

  16. I’m only partially sympathetic to this argument, as framing the street creates for a better pedestrian experience than the fence. Further, with the current layout, pedestrians need to walk through a parking lot to get to the entrance, and that’s just not right. Another issue that someone pointed out to me is that the front parking as planned here is terrible. What happens when all the spaces are full? a driver pulls in and then has to somehow back out of that area into the pedestrian walkway and the entrance/exit driveway. That’s terribad.

  17. John L says:

    Johan makes a great point. At the very least, some type of character should be given to the wall facing Winton, to contribute to the already existing character of the area. A boring wall would be just as much of a bummer as a parking lot in that space.

  18. I don’t think it’s a bad point, it’s more a question of what to do about it, because the parking lot is still a terrible idea. What about Wall Therapy?

  19. Johan says:

    I’m not sure Aldi Inc. would be too keen on having someone graffiti their brand new building, regardless of how talented the artist may be.

    The only things that would truly fit, aesthetically, along that sidewalk would be an additional entrance (not something Aldi traditionally does) or some sort of architectural element – at least windows – to have it blend with the buildings across the street (also not something Aldi traditionally does).

    In my opinion, the cons of having siting the building at the street are worse than the cons of siting a parking lot there. When you factor in the financial implications, it becomes even more obvious why Aldi likely wouldn’t be receptive to any changes.

  20. kmannkoopa says:

    I posted this before, but this is an Aldi in Pittsburgh that would seem at a glance to be near perfect for this site:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.427137,-79.967181,3a,75y,209.61h,77.24t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sQqTN4VWR6OmgBhTGhoOVOg!2e0

    In fact, I could see this exact building in Collegetown.

  21. Johan says:

    I like that design, even though it requires a corner entrance.

  22. John says:

    Aldi’s is in a unique position to be able to fix the street entrance/parking lot entrance quandary. Every store I’ve been in, has a bagging area after the registers for patrons to bag up their groceries. You just put this against the street side and as long as its wide enough, you can have a door facing the parking lot and one facing the street.


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