It’s the question on everyone’s lips.
Where is Aldi?
Three years after plans were originally flagged for an Aldi store in Central Maitland, the city still has no concrete answer if the supermarket will go ahead.
Rumours are rife the German supermarket giant will still set up shop in the city centre but the company remains coy about its possible location and whether or not it will actually go ahead.
Fairfax Media recently asked Aldi if it could confirm its plans for Central Maitland. A spokesperson for the company said: “There has been no further updates regarding your inquiry. Should we receive any updates in the future we will let you know and keep you updated.”
Fairfax Media understands Aldi is currently focusing on two possible sites for an inner city supermarket, in Maitland Market Place in Elgin Street (which formerly housed Sam’s Warehouse) and Hunter Mall on The Levee (the Kmart complex).
Fairfax Media also understands that Aldi is one of three major retail chains vying for the last major vacancy in the Hunter Mall recently purchased by Panthera Property Group for $22.5 million. A spokesperson for Panthera Property Group said an announcement on the tenancy was likely prior to Christmas.
Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore said news that retailers were keen to move into the city centre was very heartening. He said he has had discussions with representatives from Panthera Property group but was still waiting anxiously for a decision. He was also unsure whether Aldi would be moving into the old Sam’s Warehouse site or The Hunter Mall.
During last week’s photo shoot for this story Cr Blackmore was stopped by four residents asking him when Aldi was coming to town. “People are constantly asking me when the Aldi development is going ahead,”Cr Blackmore said. “The Aldi sign is still up in the Sam’s Warehouse window, and that site looks terrible at the moment.
“We are still left in the dark about its future and I have no idea what the hold up is. The time is right to develop it now while Stockland Green Hills is under construction. I really don’t understand why it’s taking so long to make an announcement.”
Aldi confirmed plans for a Central Maitland store in November 2013 and aimed to open within 18 months. It lodged a development application for the Sam’s site.
Mayor Peter Blackmore opened Sam's Warehouse building 30 years ago
Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore has unveiled plaques, cut ribbons, opened buildings, events and roadworks across the city.
In fact as one of the country’s longest serving mayors, Cr Blackmore would be hard pressed to remember and name every city milestone he has officiated at.
Last week one of those events came flooding back when he stood before the now derelict looking Maitland Market Place for a Fairfax Media photo call. “I was shocked. I looked up and saw a plaque on the wall which said this building was opened on December 4, 1986 by Alderman Peter Blackmore. It’s almost the 30th anniversary of that building’s opening,” the mayor said.
The Elgin Street centre has been closed for several years.