At its July 13 meeting, the Rolla Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the Rolla City Council approve the creation of the Rolla Aldi Plat I, a minor subdivision at the corner of Highway 72 and Rucker Avenue. The council on Monday heard a first reading of an ordinance to authorize the action.

“The applicant has submitted for a building permit to demolish the existing vacant building on the subject property in order to construct a grocery store,” city planner Tom Coots said at the July 13 commission meeting.

The empty commercial building is the former Hillcrest Shopping Center, Rolla’s first shopping center, which thrived for decades before it was emptied of businesses. For several years, the abandoned building has been the subject of irritation for some residents, so much so that it was mentioned by some members of the public when the city council began two meetings ago to turn its attention to regulating empty, privately-owned buildings more forcefully.

Aldi appears poised to use private enterprise to bring about some urban renewal. Coots told the commission that what Aldi wants to do is take the property, reorganize it into two commercial lots while vacating a utility easement no longer needed.

Currently, the property is four platted lots and an unplatted area. That unplatted area is what will become two commercial lots.

“Aldi’s developer has not yet purchased the property; however, the plat is not intended to be recorded until after the property has been purchased,” Coots said in his documentation for the council.

The application lists Austin Craddock as the applicant and Lahontan LLC as the owner.

Coots indicated the plans are that Aldi would keep Lot 1, the 2.5 acres with frontage on Highway 72 and Rucker Avenue.

The old shopping center would be cleared away and a new Aldi store built with plenty of parking and possibly room for expansion.

The property is zoned C-2, general retail district.

Lot 2, which has frontage on Black Street, is 1.20 acres, and Aldi is likely to sell it.

Sidewalks are located on Highway 72, but more sidewalks will be required when Lot 2 is developed.

“A fee-in-lieu of construction of the sidewalk is proposed for Lot 1 to receive the building permit for the grocery store,” Coots noted in his documentation.

The property will have access to all necessary utilities, and it fits the Comprehensive Plan and all zoning and subdivision requirements.

A utility easement that served the former lots on Black Street cul-de-sac is recommended for vacating, as the houses that needed the easement have all been knocked down and taken away.

Coots said the plan is to “tear down the abandoned eyesore building on Highway 72 and Rucker…and replace it with a larger, newer Aldi store.”

He said Aldi was “forced to buy more property than they needed” and this minor subdivision will clear the way for the company to sell off the area that is not needed. That property unneeded by Aldi is also zoned commercial, and “I don’t know what will become of that property.”