Site work begins on Alabaster Aldi

Crews recently began clearing a lot near the intersection of Simmsville Road and U.S. 31 to house a new Aldi grocery store. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Crews recently began clearing a lot near the intersection of Simmsville Road and U.S. 31 to house a new Aldi grocery store. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Crews have begun site preparation work on the Aldi grocery store’s second location in Shelby County, and are shooting to have the store open by late 2014.

Over the past few weeks, crews began using machinery to clear and grade a lot near the corner of Simmsville Road and U.S. 31 to house the grocery store.

According to construction documents, Aldi is planning to build a 17,651-square-foot grocery store at the corner of the two roads. The future site of the Aldi store is behind the city of Alabaster’s welcome sign and flags at the intersection.

The Ohio-based Deerfield Construction and the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Morgan Construction Company are the contractors for the project.

Project plans call for the store to offer access from U.S. 31 and from Shelby County 11, and call for improvements to the two roads to allow the access points. The store’s main parking area will face Shelby County 11, and a smaller parking area will face U.S. 31.

During a May 27 meeting, the Shelby County Commission approved a right-of-way acquisition from Aldi to aid the property’s development. The project will include relocating utilities and providing proper drainage in the area, as well as adding right- and left-hand turn lanes from Shelby County 11 to the property, according to County Engineer Randy Cole.

The Alabaster store will be Aldi’s second in Shelby County and its eighth in the Birmingham metropolitan area. The company opened a 17,500-square-foot store off U.S. 31 in Pelham in March 2011.

Aldi Food Markets have several differences from many other area grocery stores. Aldi offers limited name-brand products, and relies heavily on its own store brands.

Shopping carts are rented for 25 cents each, and the quarter is refunded when the cart is returned to its rack. Shoppers must also either bring shopping bags from home or purchase them at the checkout line.

Because Aldi charges for bags and rents shopping carts to customers, the store is able to keep its prices down by not assigning employees to collect shopping carts from the parking lot and bag groceries.