New Aldi Grocery Store Set for Chapel Hill Shopping Center

Chapel Hillians can expect yet another grocery store option as a vacant lot at Chapel Hill’s Eastgate Crossing shopping center is filled.

In June, the town’s Community Design Commission unanimously approved plans for a 24,884-square-foot Aldi at Eastgate Crossing, located at the intersection of E. Franklin Street and Fordham Boulevard.

The space near Kipos restaurant and the Dollar Tree is across the parking lot from another popular grocer: Trader Joe’s. The future grocery store lot has sat vacant since its former occupant, Stein Mart, announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August of 2020.

Eastgate Crossing sits squarely in the Town of Chapel Hill’s Blue Hill District, which is home to some of Chapel Hill’s older, suburban style shopping centers, including Village Plaza and Rams Plaza.

The Chapel Hill Town Council does not review or vote on Blue Hill District projects. Instead, the Community Design Commission and town manager approve concept plans to move projects more quickly to construction.

A district map of the Blue Hill District and its encompassed shopping centers. (Photo via Town of Chapel Hill)

Orange County records show Aldi signed a ten-year lease with Eastgate’s owner in April. The lease gives Aldi the right to renew its lease in five-year increments over the next 35 years.

The Eastgate Crossing shopping center changed ownership at the end of 2020, the latest in a recent series of shopping malls in the area to do so. KRG Eastgate Chapel Hill LLC, an affiliate of the Kite Realty Group real-estate investment company, bought the 14-acre shopping center from its longtime owner Federal Realty Investment Trust.

At present, the project is awaiting a zoning compliance from the town and no opening date has been set.

In addition to its businesses, Eastgate Crossing is known for its proximity to Booker Creek, which has a propensity for flooding. The Town of Chapel Hill recently finished installing a storage basin near the shopping center with the goal of improving stormwater retention to reduce severe flooding.

Prior to the Community Design Commission approving the Aldi project in June, the commission requested that the developer make the rear of the storefront, which faces the Booker Creek Basin Park, more aesthetically pleasing.

New project renderings, adding more planting along blank walls and lowering the height of the back façade by two feet, were deemed more than adequate.

“I do want to commend you [the applicant] for all your efforts to respond to our concerns,” said Community Design Commission member Chris Berndt. “I think it’s a great improvement and it will look a lot better from the [Booker Creek Basin] park.”

A rendering of the back façade of the store, as seen from the Booker Creek Basin Park. (Photo via Aldi/MS Consultants)

Outside of the future Chapel Hill location, the closest Aldi location is in Durham off NC Highway 751.

Per a February press release, Aldi announced that it will open approximately 100 new locations nationwide in 2021. Currently, the retailer has more than 2,000 stores across 38 states.

Lead photo via Aldi. does not charge subscription fees. You can support local journalism and our mission to serve the community. Contribute today – every single dollar matters.