Lidl abandons plans for Cary store

First IKEA spurned Cary. Now German grocer Lidl has abandoned plans for a 35,000-square-foot store on N.C. 55 north of McCrimmon Parkway.

Cary spokeswoman Deanna Hawkes confirmed the news in an email on Tuesday.

"Our development techs received an email on April 27 from the architect that they were withdrawing their building plans and it was OK to close the project," she said.

Lidl would not comment.

"We have a number of sites in development across North Carolina and do not comment on each individual one," said Jessica Haggard, a spokeswoman for the grocer. "However, we do make store announcements regularly, and as we have more to share in your area, we will be in close contact."

Lidl was supposed to be part of a 20-acre mixed-use development that includes a 205-unit apartment complex. The project's developer, Dallas-based Leon Capital Group, bought the land last year for $7 million. The apartment complex is moving forward despite Lidl's withdrawal.

In an email from Leon Capital Group's public relations firm, the developer's general counsel, Rob Pivnick, said, "Our company policy is not to comment when litigation is pending." The company is suing Lidl for breach of contract.

With 162,000 people and a median household income of more than $91,000, Cary has become a magnet for grocery stores. Lidl was supposed to join a lineup that already includes Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, Aldi, Kroger, Food Lion and — later — Wegmans, which plans two stores in Cary.

But in January, the CEO of the group that owns the Lidl chain criticized how the grocer was expanding in the United States. Klaus Gehrig said the company's U.S. stores were too big and too expensive, and he said Lidl had done a poor job of choosing locations and didn't recognize Americans' shopping preferences, including for prepared foods.

Last month, Lidl named a new president for its U.S. operations.

Lidl opened one store in Raleigh and another in Wake Forest last year.

Scott Bolejack: 919-829-4629, @ScottBolejack