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[IMGCAP(1)]DENTON, TX-German discount grocer, ALDI Inc., has just closed on a 185-acre tract beside Denton Municipal Airport, where it plans to build a $40-million distribution center to support Texas and Oklahoma. Construction could start in 30 days on the 500,000-sf specialty box.

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

“Once we have the permits, we’ll start,” says Tom Smolik, principal of Dallas-based TIG Real Estate Services Inc. He estimates it will be 12 to 18 months before ALDI’s first distribution center in the Southwest is completed. The delivery is being timed to coincide with major improvements to Airport Road, a feeder for the airport and an emerging industrial park, thanks to ALDI’s final nod to the deal.

Smolik tells GlobeSt.com that about 120 acres of the site are developable, building in ample expansion room for the grocer. According to published accounts, ALDI is planning 35 stores in Texas. It already has 13 operating in Oklahoma. A team from Dallas-based United Commercial Realty/ChainLinks is manning the retail site searches. “When they get all their stores up and running, they’ll still have room for expansion,” Smolik says.

[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 tracking a lead that the land, owned by a trust, might be available. Kevin Watson, Stratford’s principal, was the seller’s broker. “Based on their strategy of wanting to be along I-35 and proactively negotiating with Stratford, they’ve found a quality site that works really well,” Smolik says.

In late January, ALDI broke ground on a 500,000-sf distribution center 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.

ALDI is based in Essen, Germany, with its US headquarters in Batavia, IL. It operates 8,175 stores in 17 countries. At last count, it had 850 stores in 27 US states. As it expands, smaller and older distribution centers have been shuttered and replaced by regional facilities in several states, including Minneapolis, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.

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