German discount supermarket Lidl is planning to invade the United States, and it has its sights set on Bluffton.
The town of Bluffton’s Development Review Committee received a preliminary development plan for the new grocery store during a general meeting June 7.
The plan was submitted by Bohler Engineering NC PLLC on behalf of Lidl and proposed the construction of a 35,962-square-foot grocery store on 5.43 acres on Buckwalter Towne Boulevard. The site is already home to a Publix and a planned 113,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace at Buckwalter Place.
The grocer, which has with more than 10,000 locations in 27 countries across Europe, has yet to open its first store in the United States. But the company is looking at possible locations along the East Coast, including sites in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to its website.
That means Bluffton residents could potentially have the only store in the country if development moves fast enough.
Will Harwood, a representative for Lidl U.S., which is headquartered in Arlington, Va., wrote in an email that Lidl is “actively pursuing sites in the region and throughout South Carolina as we expand.”
Despite being in the early stages of expansion, Lidl predicts it will open U.S. stores no later than 2018.
Pat Rooney, senior planner with Bluffton’s Office of Planning and Development, sat in on the review committee meeting when the plans were submitted and said no major issues about the proposal were raised.
“As far as getting permits, there was nothing that was a stopper in the preliminary review,” he said.
Rooney said most comments made by the fire department were requests for information about sprinkler systems and emergency access routes. The planning department focused on site development issues such as providing medians and parking areas.
He said that during the preliminary stage, developers “don’t really provide much detail.”
The next steps for Lidl would be to submit a final development plan after addressing the committee comments, Rooney said. The developers would still need state agency approvals before construction.
“It usually takes (developers) longer to get through that,” Rooney said.