ALDI’s deal to buy land to build a discount supermarket in Ocean Springs fell through after the company learned the property is about 90 percent wetlands, Mayor Shea Dobson said Friday.
“I’m not sure where the ball was dropped or how it was miscommunicated, and I’m not happy that it wasn’t found out on the front end,” Dobson said.
ALDI and the city announced plans in October to build a grocery store on land across from the Ocean Springs Civic Center on U.S. 90. The plan was to have the store ready to open in 2019.
But news of the wetlands issue doesn’t mean it’s a done deal that ALDI won’t build in Ocean Springs, Dobson said.
“They want to come to Ocean Springs,” he said. “We want them to come and the landowner is still interested.”
Dobson said he has been talking with state and federal agencies about what could be done to make the deal workable.
“We’re trying to salvage the deal and I’m confident that it will go through somehow,” he said.
Dobson said discussions will resume after the first of the year.
“We’re working on what we can do — what the city can do, what the state can do, and maybe a combination of both — on how to mitigate it and make it as shovel-ready as possible,” he said.
City leaders have hoped that ALDI would give Ocean Springs an alternative for grocery shopping. The city’s supermarkets include Winn-Dixie, Rouses, a Walmart Supercenter and a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
The grocery chain offers shoppers a savings of up to 50 percent on their “weekly must-haves,” according to its website.
The city had hired The Retail Coach of Tupelo to bring another grocery store to the city.
The city and ALDI announced a deal in October to construct a building off U.S. 90 in 2019 after the retail recruitment business found a location that ALDI at first found acceptable.
It’s unclear why the issue of wetlands has just cropped up.
Wetlands, places where land is saturated by water, are ecosystems. To build on wetlands requires dozens of environmental permits and plans that must be approved by several agencies, including the Corps of Engineers. And it can be costly.
Ocean Springs has a Rouses Market, a Winn-Dixie, a Walmart Supercenter and a Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Ocean Springs has an estimated population of 17,682 people, according to the most recent U.S. Census, and is an easy drive from a number of Mississippi Coast cities and rural areas.