FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Lidl, a grocery store chain based in Germany, is opening a store in Florence near West Evans and Palmetto Street.
Property Broker John Jebaily confirmed to WMBF News that he signed the papers with Lidl on December 22, 2016, and after years in the making, the discount grocery store will be occupying 6.4 acres of land on Palmetto street and West Evans.
"It is certainly positive to have a new store brand that is new to Florence and really new to South Carolina," stated Florence City Manager Drew Griffin. "That is exceptional and good for us. It is a great location and will bring something different to Florence. The property was annexed into the city recently, too. We are happy to be able to work with the land owner and representative, Mr. John Jebaily. It speaks to how Florence is an urban center and the direction where we are going. I give a lot of credit to John for pulling this together."
Jebaily said the billion dollar company will add a huge boost to Florence economy. "Their retail sales for 2015 exceeded one hundred billion dollars with a 'B' in Europe, so they are rather large." He continued saying, "That's going to you know pay taxes into the community and draw business into the community, this is a big up sale for the city of Florence."
Jebaily explained he had a lot of interest from other grocery stores, coming to him to make something work. "It worked out much better working with Lidl, because we worked directly with the end user," said Jebaily.
There were two hurdles to get through over the course of the agreement. Jebaily said the first was to annex a part of the site within Florence city limits.. The other one was to get the city to agree to re-locate a sewer line that currently runs across the land. Jebaily said, "It's vital and very important and we were able to get past all of that."
Other important factors Jebaily talked about when building at the busy intersection is the accessibility and visibility. He said, "You've got access from Palmetto Street from Evans Street and Second Loop Road, I mean that's a lot of visibility, and you've got I20 behind us."
To help with easy accessibility, Jebaily said the South Carolina Department of Transportation will re-locate the two entrances on Palmetto Street farther away from one another, and the one entrance from West Evans street will stay the same, so three total entrances to get in and out easily.
Lidl, which has been compared to German discount chain Aldi, has thousands of stores in countries across Europe, and first announced expansion into the United States last year. The company's U.S. hiring site includes upcoming hiring events in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Norfolk, Virginia. No hiring events for the Florence area have been announced at this time.
The first part of construction will be taking down the billboards and Jebaily said that will happen in March. He said he is optimistic construction will begin within 2017.