The site of the future Lidl grocery store in Port Richmond

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If you were holding your breath that the Riverwards would get its brand new, European grocery store this year, don’t.

Lidl (pronounced LEE-dil) is a global discount supermarket chain based in Germany that feels a bit like the intersection of Aldi and Trader Joe’s. A store is slated to open in Philly at some point within the next year. But officials with the massive grocery store chain, which purchased a four-acre plot of land in Port Richmond late last year, are keeping tight-lipped about when exactly the first Philadelphia location will open.

If what the site looks like now is any indication, that won’t be soon.

Lidl’s Arlington, Va.-based outpost in the United States appears to have only purchased one plot of land— 2270 and 2300 E. Butler St. just off Aramingo Avenue — in Philadelphia so far. The location is in a retail-heavy enclave of the Riverwards, sitting right across Butler Street from Walmart and Lowes. Here’s where the store will be, for context:

Lidl, a European grocer, has bought up the property across the street from Walmart in Port Richmond. Credit: Anna Orso/Billy Penn

It appears the demolition of the industrial building that sat on the plot of land prior to purchase last year has been completed, work that was anticipated to wrap up in April. But it doesn’t appear construction on the structure that will eventually replace it has began.

A Lidl United States spokesperson said only that the company is looking into “several sites in the Philadelphia area,” but has not yet released any specific information on opening dates. The CEO of the U.S. operation told reporters in May that stores across the country, including in and around Philadelphia, should begin operations by June 2018.

While there is a job listing for a store management position in Philadelphia, no start date or specific location is listed and the company didn’t indicate it’s currently hiring any associates in the city. However, the company is working to hire for locations in South Jersey.

A pile of dirt where a grocery store will probably be next year Credit: Anna Orso/Billy Penn

Lidl U.S. spent nearly $3 million buying up the two parcels of land that make up the 170,000 sq. ft. future site of its store, according to city property records. The company’s other planned stores in the United States are about 36,000 sq. ft, or roughly twice the size of your typical Aldi store.

If the giant pile of dirt currently sitting on lot isn’t evidence enough that Lidl probably won’t grace us with its presence until next year, records also show the assessed market value of the parcel at 2270 E. Butler St. nearly quadruples from about $350,000 in 2017 to $1.2 million in 2018.

The German chain opened its first stores in the United States in June this year in Virginia and North Carolina, and some industry analysts say it could seriously cut into competitors like Aldi and Trader Joe’s. Lidl is reportedly planning to blanket the country, opening some 600 locations in the coming years. (It already has 10,000 stores across Europe.)

And it’s not the only grocery store chain looking to cash in here in Philly. Sprouts Farmers Market is looking at opening Philadelphia locations and Mom’s Organic Market opened a Center City outpost recently. Bfresh Grocery is opening multiple locations in Philly, Parsley & Sage recently opened in Fishtown and Everything Fresh is open at 12th and Walnut.

Lidl is also reportedly opening at least two stores in the Philadelphia suburbs, one in Delaware County and another in Bucks.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.