The site search started nearly one year ago, with word making itto the street in April that land in Denton was under contract. Inclearing the last cliff-hanging hurdle for the off-market deal toclose, ALDI paid $3.96 million to Dallas-based Stratford Group forthe deed to 1517 Centre Place Dr., which is situated close to theInterstate 35 North and I-35W junction.

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"Once we have the permits, we'll start," says Tom Smolik,principal of Dallas-based TIG Real Estate Services Inc. Heestimates it will be 12 to 18 months before ALDI's firstdistribution center in the Southwest is completed. The delivery isbeing timed to coincide with major improvements to Airport Road, afeeder for the airport and an emerging industrial park, thanks toALDI's final nod to the deal.

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Smolik tells GlobeSt.com that about 120 acres of the site aredevelopable, building in ample expansion room for the grocer.According to published accounts, ALDI is planning 35 stores inTexas. It already has 13 operating in Oklahoma. A team fromDallas-based United Commercial Realty/ChainLinks is manning theretail site searches. "When they get all their stores up andrunning, they'll still have room for expansion," Smolik says.

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[IMGCAP(2)]Smolik says ALDI scoured I-35 from Corinth to Sanger,narrowing the search to four sites. The kissing point for north,east, south and west travel was the dealmaker, with Smolik trackinga lead that the land, owned by a trust, might be available. KevinWatson, Stratford's principal, was the seller's broker. "Based ontheir strategy of wanting to be along I-35 and proactivelynegotiating with Stratford, they've found a quality site that worksreally well," Smolik says.

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In late January, ALDI broke ground on a 500,000-sf distributioncenter in Haines City, FL, adding 100 jobs to the city. The$40-million specialized building is designed to support 25 stores,which will begin opening in September in Central Florida.

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ALDI is based in Essen, Germany, with its US headquarters inBatavia, IL. It operates 8,175 stores in 17 countries. At lastcount, it had 850 stores in 27 US states. As it expands, smallerand older distribution centers have been shuttered and replaced byregional facilities in several states, including Minneapolis, NorthCarolina, Pennsylvania.

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