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VOL. 129 | NO. 245 | Wednesday, December 17, 2014

From Sweden to Memphis

Furniture retailer Ikea to open in 2016

By Amos Maki

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Swedish retail giant Ikea will open a 225-employee store in the Wolfchase Galleria area in 2016.

The furniture retailer will locate the 269,000-square-foot store on a 35-acre site in Memphis near Interstate 40 and Germantown Parkway.

“Today, we’re bringing a little bit of Sweden to the Mid-South,” an Ikea spokesman told the assembled crowd at City Hall Tuesday, Dec. 16.

The retailer has secretly been exploring Memphis for a new store, including an undisclosed site near the Costco store at 2431 N. Germantown Parkway in Cordova.

Ikea will seek tax incentives from the city-county Economic Development Growth Engine board, according to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

Wharton didn’t disclose details of the request for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement but said it would be filed shortly with EDGE. He also said the PILOT agreement would be the only incentives involved in the Ikea project.

(Ikea)

“The location of Ikea in Memphis is a significant win for our city," said Phil Trenary, president and CEO of Greater Memphis Chamber. "Memphis is an authentic place filled with very engaged young professionals who are passionate about growing Memphis and will welcome a company like Ikea with open arms."

Wharton said Ikea and its representatives approached city and county government leaders six to eight months ago.

Over the weekend he began notifying City Council members and other officials about the pending announcement. He did not go into specifics with the officials, saying only that he would be making a special announcement Tuesday. Officials began preparing the Hall of Mayors for the announcement Monday. A section of the area was cordoned off by large black curtains and several pieces of the retailer’s home furnishings were visible.

(Ikea)

Ikea stores are usually massive, ranging from around 300,000 square feet to more than 500,000 square feet, a size usually associated with industrial warehouses and not retailers. Ikea stores usually have thousands of exclusively designed items and dozens of individual room settings to give shoppers a real-world idea of what they’ll be getting. The stores also often include large restaurants and play rooms and care areas for children.

The Memphis store, according to Ikea, will feature nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, 50 room settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area, and a 300-seat restaurant that would serve Swedish specialties, including the retailer’s famed meatballs.

Ikea said it plans to evaluate potential on-site power generation. Nearly 90 percent of the company’s U.S. locations have a renewable energy presence.

Ikea’s Memphis store would be its first in Tennessee, Arkansas or Mississippi. Ikea, which was founded in Sweden in 1943, operates more than 360 stores in 46 countries, including 40 stores in the U.S.

Currently the closest Ikea is in Atlanta. The company is in the midst of building a 380,000-square-foot St. Louis store, scheduled to open in fall 2015.

The Ikea store is the latest in a string of good economic development news for Memphis. Discount retailer Target plans on opening an online fulfillment center in Memphis that will employ 462 new employees and Cummins Inc., after flirting with Mississippi, plans on keeping nearly 900 employees and expanding in Memphis.

Daily News senior reporter Bill Dries contributed to this report.

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