Home Furnishings Retailer IKEA Coming to Charlotte

First Carolinas store to cover 345,000 square feet. Will IKEA ever come to Triangle? Maybe.

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IKEA shoppers
RALEIGH, N.C. — IKEA, one of the world’s best-known home-furnishings retailers, is coming to the Carolinas in a big way.

The Sweden-based company said Wednesday it would open a 345,000-square foot store in Charlotte in the spring of 20009. It would be IKEA’S fourth store in the southeast.

And even though the Research Triangle area didn’t land this store, the region is definitely on IKEA’s marketing radar, according to an IKEA spokesperson.

“Certainly we have a customer base in the Research Triangle area,” said Joseph Roth, who is responsible for IKEA’s expansion efforts and public relations. “We actually have 150,000 customers in the Carolinas.

“Part of the reason for the Charlotte expansion is to bring our shopping experience closer to them. Certainly, the Charlotte location appeared to be more central to these customers.

“Charlotte’s population base is also slightly larger,” he added, “but that’s not to say another N.C. store is not on the horizon. For right now, our No. 1 priority is to open the Charlotte store.”

IKEA opens three to five new stores a year in North America.

“The size of our stores is quite large,” Roth explained. “It’s quite a significant investment just to build one.”

Roth is familiar with the Triangle, however. He did visit the area last fall when IKEA announced plans to build a factory in Danville, Va. In fact, his flight plans brought him to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

“It is not unheard of for us to have more than one store in a state,” he added, noting that IKEA has three stores in Texas, is building two in Florida, and has several in California.

The Charlotte store and parking lot for 1,700 vehicles will cover 25 acres of land located at the intersection of I-85 and City Boulevard in Charlotte. Another 3 acres will be set aside for restaurant and other retail uses.

“Our stores can be rather sizable,” Roth said. “This certainly will be one of the larger ones. North Carolina is a very populous area and is fast growing, so it needs to be large.”

According to IKEA, Crescent Resources will develop an additional 135 acres that surround the property. IKEA acquired the 125 acres from Crescent.

IKEA stores are already open in Atlanta and Woodbridge, Va., which is near Washington. D.C.

The Charlotte store will employ 400 people.

Features will include nearly 10,000 items, three model homes, 50 different room settings, a children’s play area and a 300-seat restaurant.

While the model homes are not “Carolina sized,” as Roth described them, they do present what IKEA calls “smart furnishings” that can be used to maximize the use of space.

IKEA, founded in 1943, operates more than 250 stores in 34 countries around the world.

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