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Posted on: October 26, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposed Aldi Project

aldi

*Update* This article has been updated with additional information.


Has Aldi been asked about building at 63rd and Hickman? Do they have any interest in doing so?

Yes, they were asked and they are not interested. 

There are a number of current tenants where Aldi would like to build so assuming the project proceeds, has Colby made arrangements for tenants to relocate to other properties close by? 

Yes. Colby notified their tenants that this was moving forward. Most, if not all, of their current tenants are on month-to-month leases and declined offers for long-term leases back in 2020 and 2019. Should the project receive necessary approvals and tenants must be relocated, Colby has stated that businesses will be relocated within Windsor Heights if at all possible. 

I’m concerned that a new Aldi’s store will generate more traffic than the City road system can accommodate. Does the City consider traffic when reviewing Aldi’s site plan?

Traffic volumes are one of the more important aspects considered during the Site Plan review process. Engineers trained in traffic planning and analysis review a proposed development to ensure that the public infrastructure in and around it is sized appropriately to handle any increase in traffic generated from the new development. If improvements are deemed necessary, the property owner must make accommodations to meet the new traffic requirements. 

We believe the first proposal had a traffic study done. Is that traffic study inconsequential as University Ave. is now a three-lane road? If so, will there be a new traffic study, and will Colby or Aldi assume responsibility for the costs?

Aldi’s civil engineer was told over the summer that they needed to complete a new traffic study which they are currently working on. 

Why can’t the City put something else at that location? 

It is not appropriate or legal for municipalities to make decisions on development proposals based upon narrow or potentially discriminatory factors that focus on who owns the property, the personal shopping preferences of members of the Planning & Zoning Commission or City Council, the predicted success or failure of the applicant’s business plan or other subjective measures. Instead, cities develop and adopt criteria in the zoning code which outlines the different uses (professional offices, gas stations, medical facilities, churches, car washes, and others) and where best appropriate for them to be located in conjunction with a City’s Comprehensive Plan. If a property owner desires to locate a business on their property where a use is permitted and the Site Plan meets the development standards for that use, a City is obligated to give approval. 

I don’t shop at Aldi. Therefore, I do not want an Aldi’s in Windsor Heights. Is that a good reason to deny a company’s request to build in Windsor Heights?

No. For several reasons. While one resident may not shop at Aldi’s, many others do. Having multiple shopping options in Windsor Heights is desirable as it supports a diverse citizenry and economy. This plays out in the Windsor Heights community every day. There are many businesses offering similar services (breakfast restaurants, convenience/gas stations, banks, hair salons). This is good for the local economy as it provides greater choices for residents and opportunities for small businesses. 

We already have a grocery business in Windsor Heights. We should not allow another one. Right? 

This is not a good economic development strategy and is legally questionable relative to whether the City is discriminating against certain property owners or businesses over others. Why would a community select a Hy-Vee Grocery Store over a Walmart, for example? They would not. And, Windsor Heights has not practiced this type of selective economic development in the past. 

What is a site plan and the process for approving or denying? 

Cities typically require property owners to submit a Site Plan for what is intended to be constructed on a property or site. The Site Plan is required to address a variety of development considerations ranging from building placement on the site to traffic access. The Site Plan is first submitted to City staff who are trained and experienced in the different disciplines that must be applied to proper planning of such a development (building construction, traffic control, water and wastewater infrastructure, and police and fire access, as examples). Once reviewed by staff, the Site Plan must be reviewed by the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council. Opportunities for public input are afforded each step of the way. 

Does the property owner/developer get to put anything it wants on its property? 

No. Any new development proposed by the property owner must meet the City’s zoning code (rules on what types of business uses can be located on a site) and development standards established by the City Council. 

Why would the City provide a tax rebate for a new Aldi’s store? 

The Aldi’s project fits the model of a traditional TIF project better than most as it involves rehabilitating an older property challenged with lower-than-market-rate rents. The TIF rebate being requested by Colby Trust for the Aldi’s project is also much smaller than the funding provided for the Hy-Vee project in 1997 ($1.9 million) and the original Aldi project proposal in 2015 ($1 million). Economic development activities are intended to grow the local tax base (the key method for paying for city, county and local school district services), and improving the local quality of life and building a better and more sustainable local economy. Aldi’s represents a niche grocery segment not currently represented in Windsor Heights. If located here, a new Aldi’s Grocery Store would also boost the local retail economy as another destination spot, strengthen the Windsor Heights retail area and offer new job opportunities which is an important element to building a strong local economy. 

Is there an estimate to the property tax revenue this will generate? 

It will generate approximately $85,318 in revenue the first year (FY24). The City will receive $46,393 and the Rebate will be $38,925. These are conservative estimates using the most conservative timeline for opening the store.

What does TIF stand for and how does it work?

TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing. TIF works this way: A property today has a certain valuation for tax purposes as determined by the County Assessor. When development occurs on a parcel of land, a new valuation must be assigned to the property that reflects the addition of new buildings and infrastructure. The difference between the new valuation and the current valuation results in an increase in taxes generated by the property. This is called the tax capture. The tax capture to be received by the City is earmarked (in a TIF Plan) to be used for roadways, utilities, property acquisition, public amenities and development incentives, among other approved expenses, to encourage further economic development and community improvements. A TIF Rebate is one of those tools supported by TIF capture to encourage new development. In the City of Windsor Heights, TIF funds have been used for projects like the Hy-Vee development in 1997, Kum & Go Fuel Station in 2015, EcoSource business development grant in 2019, Pharmco Properties business development grant in 2019 and 73rd Street patching project in 2020. 

A number of people have labeled Aldi is a “big box” store, but our understanding is that the current structure is 17,112 square feet and the proposed Aldi is 19,209 square feet, so just over 2,000 square feet larger. Correct?

Yes. 



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