Despite push back from neighboring property owners and tenants, the German company seeking to build a third grocery store in Cobb County won approval of its project from the Marietta City Council.
Council members at their July 10 meeting unanimously approved variance requests from Lidl to transform an empty building at 670 Whitlock Avenue into a store for residents on that side of town.
Lidl sought permission to reduce the required buffer from 40 feet to 10 feet, increase the maximum building setback from 75 to 125 feet and to allow the exterior to be comprised of glass, exterior insulation and finish system and split-face concrete block.
The three-acre site, best known as the old A&P grocery store, has not had an active tenant since 2007, according to city documents. Its 32,000-square-foot building and parking lot were constructed in the 1970s, and Lidl plans to demolish that structure and build a 29,000-square-foot store in its place.
The company’s plans to come to Marietta were unveiled in May by Mayor Steve Tumlin’s during his annual State of the City address.
Lidl’s request from the city was not met with open arms from adjacent tenants and property owners, who said the positioning of the building would block Whitlock Avenue motorists from viewing their stores. Carol Hammock, a commercial real estate broker and manager of the building at 688 Whitlock Avenue, said her father, Ed, built that development more than 30 years ago and it has been “thriving and fully rented” most of the time. The new building, she said, would block nine of her building’s 13 storefronts.
The last thing the city wants, Ed Hammock said, is another building with empty spaces, but Lidl’s design would make that a reality for his tenants “because they won’t have the exposure they have now.”
Katherine Cherches, owner of Kat’s Family Barber Shop, said her business has been up and running in Marietta for 28 years. However, she said her venture would be in jeopardy if Lidl’s building plans are approved as proposed.
“I do not want myself or my customers to be in a back alley looking at the back of a building,” she said. “Nobody wants to see a back of a building when they are getting their hair cut.”
Clara Howell of HHH Properties, the owner of property east of the Lidl site at 660 Whitlock Avenue, said she believes the new development will be an improvement to the current state of the property.
“There’s nothing worse than the eyesore that we’ve had,” she said, adding her tenants are happy to have Lidl come in and clean up the property.
Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson said she believes the Hammocks and their tenants just want to “feel like they get a benefit and not just a loss by you coming in.” However, Mayor Steve Tumlin told the Hammocks that when they constructed their building, a Kroger store situated behind them had to relocate because its view from Whitlock Avenue was blocked.
Lidl, which rhymes with needle, said it has more than 10,500 stores in 29 countries across the globe. It boasts a wide selection of beer and wine, as well as gluten-free and organic items. The Marietta store would be the third Lidl location in Cobb County. Other stores are located at 2641 Powder Springs Road in Austell and 4844 Floyd Road SW in Mableton. It also has a store on Stone Mountain Highway in Snellville.
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