By Ashley M. Casey
The proposed Aldi grocery store on the former Nestlé site may not break ground as scheduled.
Aldi and developer Bergmann Associates had planned to begin construction July 1, but the property still has not been abated and demolished.
County Legislator Frank Castiglia Jr. noticed there has been little activity at the site, which is located on the corner of Fourth and Fay streets.
Earlier this week, he called Lew Kibling, a representative of Aldi at the Tully corporate office, for a status report. Kibling’s verdict? “Not good,” Castiglia said.
According to Castiglia, Kibling said Aldi will give property owner Carbonstead LLC two more weeks before they pull out of the former Nestlé site. He said Kibling told him, “There’s nothing happening at that site that would allow us to break ground by July 1.”
Property owner Ed Palmer of Carbonstead LLC said he has encountered many delays in preparing the site.
“It might be delayed a couple weeks,” Palmer said. “We had an unusually harsh winter, so we couldn’t do the abatement over the winter.
“A lot of the delays are bureaucratic in nature,” Palmer added.
He said he is in the process of signing two contractors for abatement and demolition of the buildings, but declined to name them as their contracts had not come through yet.
Once the contractors sign on, they must notify the Department of Labor of their intent to remove the asbestos from the property at least 10 days prior to the abatement.
Palmer said once the Department of Labor gives the go-ahead, abatement and demolition would take less than a month.
“Regardless of everyone’s eagerness, we have to maintain strict protocol when it comes to the abatement and demolition,” Palmer said.
As of June 4, Carbonstead LLC replaced dust screens and repaired security fences surrounding the property to prepare it for abatement.
“I know everyone’s very anxious and they want to see something happen there. So do I,” Palmer said. “But I can’t skip steps. It’s not a small project.”
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said the city received blueprints of the Aldi project in the mail June 3.
“We haven’t had anybody call us up and say the deal’s off,” Woodward said. He said neither Aldi nor Palmer had returned his calls.
Even if Aldi decides not to go with the Nestlé site, there’s still hope. Castiglia said Kibling told him Aldi wants a store in Fulton and is open to looking at other sites.
Maggie Byrne, a spokesperson for Aldi, sent The Valley News this statement from the company:
At ALDI, we want to be conveniently based where ALDI shoppers are located. In choosing locations, we look at several variables, including population density, proximity to competition, cost of the property and traffic patterns. The Nestlé property is still one of several locations that ALDI would consider for the Fulton community.
Update, 3:15 p.m., June 6: Mayor Woodward says Aldi is still coming to Fulton, even if the Nestlé site doesn’t work out. Read more here.