Worldwide supermarket giant Lidl withdrew a rezoning application that would have brought a big-box store to Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville.
A local attorney representing the German retailer cited unspecified logistic issues with the property as the reason why Lidl withdrew its application in recent days.
Attorney Tyler Smith issued a brief statement on the supermarket chain’s turnaround at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“We hope we’re going to be back...,” Smith told the council. “(Lidl) is expanding right now primarily along the eastern seaboard and they were certainly looking at Gainesville. We greatly appreciate city staff working with us on this, however, there were some outstanding issues, and we received word just the other day that they sought to withdraw the application without prejudice.”
Pressed afterward about the reasons why Lidl withdrew its application, Smith said the company did not make any comments to him about issues of concern.
“They simply elected their option to withdraw their application,” Smith said.
The 6.85-acre property where the almost 36,000-square-foot supermarket was to be built is owned by Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Smith said that while there was a contract on the property, it was contingent on due diligence.
City Manager Bryan Lackey said he was both surprised and disappointed by the retailer’s decision.
Lackey said it’s his understanding that the company would have had a difficult time with the Georgia Department of Transportation in getting a 150-foot-long left-turn lane added to access its proposed driveway to the site.
“We’re hopeful they pick Gainesville whether at this or some other site,” Lackey said. “We’ll talk to them when they come back.”
Gainesville Planning Manager Matt Tate said he reached out to the company but was unable to get a specific reason for their decision.
“We’d love to see them here in Gainesville,” Tate said.
Based on studies, Lidl would have added 2,431 new weekday trips on an already congested Dawsonville Highway.
Lidl opened its first U.S. store this spring and is on a pace to have more than 30 stores along the east coast by the end of the year. The chain is projected to add more than 100 stores in 2018 and eventually build out with 600 stores coast to coast.
The Gainesville store would have employed between 25 to 50 employees, according to information Lidl provided to the city.