LUMBERTON — The fate of a grocery store planned near Roberts Avenue and Fayetteville Road is uncertain, an the Germany-based retail giant Lidl isn’t making the picture any clearer.
“We don’t know any more than you do,” City Manger Wayne Horne said Wednesday.
It was announced in March 2017 that Lidl (pronounced Leedle) was planning to build a store at the site where once stood the Cinema IV theater, which was demolished and removed to make room. The company, which was founded in 1930, had announced it planned to build stores along the United States East Coast from Pennsylvania to Georgia. Twenty-five stores and a distribution center were planned for North Carolina.
More than a year after being announced, no movement has been made on construction of the 36,000-square-foot grocery store in Lumberton that was scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.
“I think they were just moving too fast, and they decided to slow down,” Horne said.
Regardless, city leaders have no information on why the lot once owned by the family of the late Hector MacLean, a state senator and former mayor of Lumberton who also was the top man of Southern National Bank, stands empty.
Attempts to get information have been made, Horne said. City leaders tried to reach out to their contacts at Lidl only to learn that they were gone. They tried to call the company that demolished the old movie theater.
“But that number was no longer active,” Horne said.
City leaders have decided to sit back and wait.
Television station WRAL, an NBC affiliate in Raleigh, has reported that Lidl no longer plans to build a store on N.C. 55 in Raleigh. The store was to be part of a 20-acre development that included apartments and other retailers. The apartments remain on track to be built.
The Robesonian sent an email requesting information to Lidl on Wednesday.
Will Harwood, Lidl director of Communications, wrote in an email: “Lidl has received positive feedback from our customers across North Carolina, and we look forward to opening more stores in the state. Our teams are looking at a range of possibilities for additional sites, but it is too early to address each individual one. We do not have new store announcements to share in your area at this time.”
The announcement of a possible Lumberton Lidl store caused some excitement over the prospect that a retail eyesore would be torn down and a valuable and highly visible piece of property would be in use again.
“This property is highly visible, and this is a nice use of the property,” Horne said at the time. “We’re excited about this important addition to our community, and we’re pleased to see the revitalization of a key city property.”
That has not happened, and no one seems to know if it will.