Aldi, Marshalls, new hotel get closer to reality in Alpena

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz A construction worker shrugged off Tuesday’s cold and snow to continue work on the new Starbuck and an urgent care on M-32 in Alpena. An Aldi, and Marshalls or TJ Maxx could also open nearby.

ALPENA — Alpena is getting closer to getting an Aldi, Marshalls and a new hotel.

Developers are wrapping up environmental assessments, putting deposits on property, and constructing new businesses that should be open this year or in 2023.

That is what Mike Mahler, the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce and Target Alpena Economic Development Corp. economic development director told the Alpena Municipal Council at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Mahler said projects, such as a new hotel in downtown Alpena, an Aldi, a Marshalls or TJ Maxx, and others, continue to move forward despite the curveball the pandemic threw at them.

“Despite the lingering COVID situation, economic development activity has regressed back to the norm,” Mahler said. “For many developers, the threat of COVID disruptions is just another issue they need to deal with as they look toward the future and expansion opportunities. What I am experiencing by way of activity is every bit equal to or greater than the activity that was occurring three to five years ago.”

Mahler updated council on the progress of projects that are underway and in the works.


The developer completed a technical study in late December and learned the site requires some work to support the size and weight of the proposed hotel, Mahler said.

Mahler said the ground at the site, which sits on the edge of the Thunder Bay River, isn’t suitable for typical construction and will require pilings – vertical structural elements, which are driven or drilled into the ground at the building site. Pilings were also used at the site of the Holiday Inn Express just two blocks away before it was constructed.

The issues with the property, Mahler said, should open up the use of Brownfield funds to help the developer with additional costs incurred from the condition of the land.

He said local Brownfield Authority officials met with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy about the property and discussed a $1 million grant for the various environmental issues with the site.

A property eligible for Brownfield funding is abandoned, idled, or an underused industrial or commercial facility in which redevelopment is burdened by environmental contamination.


“Things are moving forward,” Mahler said.

Alpena Public Schools and the developer are nearing a deal that would turn over the school system-owned property where the bus garage is on M-32 in exchange for a new bus garage to be built by the developer near Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium at Alpena High School.

Mahler said the school and state are reviewing final plans for the new bus garage, while the newly formed Alpena Township Brownfield Authority is working with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to get a grant to help the developer address cleanup of the property.

Mahler said the developer wants the new garage completed by late winter so it gains site control of the old garage and complete cleanup in the spring.

If all goes according to plan, the store will be built by late fall, Mahler said.


The same developer for the proposed Aldi remains interested in constructing a new retail store between the Meijer entrance on Hobbs Drive and the Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union. The developer increased the amount of non-refundable money topward the sale to the property owner in exchange for a 60-day extension to complete the transaction.

“The developer indicated that they reached an agreement with the owner of the site in the terms of a sale and the agreement called for a Nov. 15 closing date,” Mahler said. “This date was extended and given the additional funds, this looks more likely to move forward.”

Mahler said he was unable to provide a timeline for the proposed store.


The dual facility on M-32 adjacent to the Meijer gas station continues to take shape a little more each day. The skeleton frame of the structure stands firm and the walls of the building are now intact.

Mahler said the developer intends to have the buildings complete early in the spring and the businesses open by late spring.


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