BEMIDJI -- The Aldi grocery store chain is taking action to move into the Bemidji market, with a location already in mind.
The company has submitted a conditional use permit application to the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning office in order to open an Aldi at 1313 Paul Bunyan Drive NW. According to planning documents, the building, formerly Gander Outdoors, a permit is required for proposed grocery stores larger than 15,000 square feet.
According to the application documents, Aldi plans to divide the building for two store fronts, allowing for additional tenants, as it only needs 22,000 square feet, leaving a 14,700 square feet for another tenant. Construction is anticipated to begin as early as spring 2020, with completion expected by the end of the year.
While the building was previously used for retail, a grocery store at the location isn't new. Built in 1982, the structure once housed Johanneson's Food4Less.
More recently, the building housed Gander Outdoors until October when Camping World announced the locations in Bemidji and Eden Prairie would be closing. The location was previously Gander Mountain, but the St. Paul-based Gander Mountain Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in spring 2017.
Following the bankruptcy announcement, Camping World bought the company and re-opened the Bemidji Gander Mountain as a Gander Outdoors.
When the Bemidji Aldi opens in the building, it will be the latest for the company already operating more than 1,900 stores in 36 states. Regionally, the Bemidji Aldi will follow a Fargo location opened earlier this year and a Dilworth location that opened in November 2017.
In northern Minnesota, Aldis are located in Baxter, Grand Rapids, Virginia and Fergus Falls. Aldi also has a presence in Duluth and the Twin Cities metro area. Originating in Germany in 1946, Aldi opened its first U.S. store in 1976 in Iowa. In Minnesota, the first Aldi opened in 2003.
According to the planning documents, staff is recommending officials approve the permit application. The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission will consider the application at its Thursday, Nov. 21, meeting at Bemidji City Hall, 317 Fourth St. NW.