A busy section of U.S. 301 will get even busier as developers move forward with plans to build a small shopping plaza with an Aldi grocery store at the intersection of Pretty Pond Road.
Demolition crews began razing Rainbow Court and Brightside Manor mobile home parks in March. MQ Pretty Ponds LLC, a subsidiary of MQ Partners of Dallas, bought the two parcels in 2014, and gave notice to residents they would need to relocate to make way for the plaza.
No construction date has been announced.
For the moment, city officials and developers are grappling with how to get approval for a new traffic signal at Pretty Pond.
A traffic signal currently operates at the Townview and Merchant’s Square Shopping centers, directing traffic flow into and out of their parking lots on opposite sides of U.S. 301. But Florida Department of Transportation officials say a light at Pretty Pond can only be considered if the existing signal comes down. Two traffic signals so close together don’t meet national highway standards for safe road design, state road officials say.
Commercial and residential growth justifies installing a traffic signal at Pretty Pond to accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic volume, said Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina.
Zephyr Commons, a shopping center anchored by a Publix grocery store, is in the same area as the proposed Aldi. And, about 230 new apartments are due for construction, Spina said.
“Its (traffic) all got to come out somehow,” Spina said. “We have to come up with something,”
Spina said he intends to meet with owners of the shopping center to discuss options.
Aldi is a leading international retailer in the discount grocery market. Shoppers bag their own groceries and are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags. Stores are stocked with about 1,400 quick-selling food items including fresh produce, meat, dairy, wine and beer. In contrast, a typical grocer might stock as many as 30,000 items. The goal is low overhead expenses, which Aldi representatives say translates into major savings for its shoppers.
The company was founded in the mid-1940s in Germany and today operates more than 9,000 stores in 18 countries. The United States division is headquartered in Illinois.
In a news release issued this year, Aldi announced the goal of opening 650 new stores in America by the end of 2018. That represents more than a $3 billion investment in land, facilities and equipment.
Aldi was named the nation’s top discount grocery store for four consecutive years, and also one of the top three favorite grocery store chains in America, based on consumer surveys by Market Force Information Inc.
Published May 6, 2015