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(Janesville, WI) Neil Johnson, Gazette

Local grocer Aldi will break ground later this month on a new Janesville store along Deerfield Drive to replace its store on Milton Avenue. 

Gale Price, city building and development services manager, confirmed Wednesday the city in late June signed off on site plans by Aldi's Oak Creek Division to build a 17,000-square-foot store on a four-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Deerfield Drive and Highway 14 across from Best Buy.

Price said the new Aldi will replace the 15,000-square-foot store at 2717 Milton Ave.

He said the company has indicated the move to Deerfield Drive across from the Pine Tree Plaza shopping area would give Aldi better visibility and customer traffic.

“One of their challenges (at their Milton Avenue location) is that visibility has not been very strong for a grocery store,” Price said. “They see it's important to be out there along Deerfield with regional shopping with more visibility on Highway 14.”

The Aldi now is set back off the west side of Milton Avenue, adjacent to Toys 'R' Us and near the site of a future Panera Bread restaurant. A frontage road intersection at that spot has had traffic problems for years, officials have said.

Price said he understands Aldi is either in the final stages of selling or already has sold the Milton Avenue building, but he's been told the Milton Avenue location will remain open until the new store is built.

Aldi's website lists the Milton Avenue parcel for sale. The Gazette could not immediately reach a real estate manager for Aldi's Oak Creek Division for comment on the sale or the timeline of the project.

Aldi could break ground on Deerfield Drive within the next 14 days, Price said.

Aldi got approval from the city to build the store without a public conditional-use process and without city council action, Price said.

He said the development could be approved without review because city ordinances require public conditional-use review only for commercial buildings over 25,000 square feet on lots larger than five acres.

Price said the city has been working with Aldi on the plan since March 2013. Aldi staff changes slowed talks, and the city most recently worked to iron out traffic flow issues, he said.

The corner of Highway 14 and Pine Tree had some complications because it's one of the busier intersections in the city, Price said. The intersection needs to be reconfigured with a fourth traffic signal, and the store will have one entrance along Deerfield Drive that people can access from the north or south.

Price said the city wanted to make sure an entrance to the new store wouldn't be set up in a way that could route customer traffic “straight across the street” into a secondary entrance to stores at Pine Tree Plaza.

“We couldn't have people driving right across traffic from one place to the next. Traffic is too crazy out there,” Price said.

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