Discount grocery Lidl will make College Park one of its first U.S. locations.
The German chain (pronounced leedle) is planning to open 100 stores along the East Coast by 2018, with the first stores opening in the Mid Atlantic and Southeast. In Prince George’s County, other stores are planned for Bowie and Suitland.
The College Park store would be built at the site of the Clarion Inn at the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Berwyn Road. The site plan was approved by the Prince George’s County Planning Board in October.
The 36,000-square-foot store would be just slightly smaller than the recently opened 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods in Riverdale Park.
Unlike that store, the high-end Safeway at University Town Center or the Yes! Organic Market at Arts District Hyattsville, Lidl is aiming for more of a discount audience. Its main competitor in the area is rival German chain Aldi, which already has stores in Hyattsville, Takoma Park and Beltsville.
The general concept at Lidl is sort of a cross between Trader Joe’s and Walmart: Lots of store-brand private labels, low prices, not as much selection as a traditional grocery store. (You want mustard? They have one kind, instead of 16.) Some foodies are excited about the U.S. expansion, and it’s considered a potential threat to Whole Foods.
The grocery should help with parts of College Park’s designation as a “food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—an area with low-income residents (mostly college students) and little access to food.
One other thing that should help with access: Developers may be required to add a bikesharing station. This is a smart and cost-effective way to expand the Zagster system in College Park, especially for new projects like a grocery store.