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Issue: 1216 Date: 12/12/2013
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IKEA Bringing A Store (And Its Meatballs) To St. Louis City

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An artist's rendering of the new St. Louis city IKEA store.
        St. Louis' IKEA store will open in Fall 2015 and will be the Swedish retailer's 40th store in the United States.

        Here's an artist's rendering of the store, which is slated for the corner of Forest Park and Vandeventer avenues in the Cortex development.

        And what about jobs? An IKEA spokesperson says 300 permanent jobs will come with the arrival of the new store, and part time workers are sometimes eligible for benefits. 600 to 700 construction jobs could also be generated.

        Here are some of the building specs:

        380,000 sq. ft.1250 parking spaces21 acresIt will be two storiesThe building will be built over covered parking

        St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay told reporters at a press conference this morning that the new IKEA could generate a quarter of a billion dollars in tax revenue for the city over the next 20 years.

        "Most importantly, IKEA chose a location in the city of St. Louis over the suburbs, and Im very, very proud of that," Slay said. "As we know, over decades, these national and international retailers have done a pretty good job of fleeing into the suburbs out of the inner cities, and were seeing a reversal of that. And this is a huge example of that and we certainly appreciate that."

        The store also fits into the new master plan Cortex leaders like CEO Dennis Lower developed in 2012.

        Not just technology buildings, that would be open at 8:00 in the morning and close at 6:00 at night, but truly a live work play learn environment where people could come early and stay late."

        IKEA officials will not say how many people they expect to visit the new store but they did say 101,000 St. Louis area residents are already IKEA customers. Reed Lyons, the project's real estate manager, says the St. Louis location could attract shoppers from as many as eight metropolitan areas.

        The hope of officials like Mayor Slay, of course, is that they do more than just visit IKEA while in St. Louis.

        Theyre going to be able to spend some money at other retail establishments while theyre here, and maybe stay at the hotels, maybe to go the restaurants, and visit some of our cultural arts and amenities here in the city of St. Louis," Slay said.

        And hes bullish on the broader impacts, too.

        It will be a place that will draw more attention to St. Louis, raise our profile, and I think that benefits the market for other things," Slay said. "It will help spur other investment and development as well. It isnt being oversold. IKEA itself is huge, whether they bring nothing to the table."

        Dennis Lower of Cortex is also predicting success.

        The best indicator of that I believe will be sometime in 2016, there will be a peoples choice award that names the Swedish meatball, over the toasted ravioli, as the finger food of choice for St. Louis," Lower said.

        Groundbreaking for the store is expected in summer 2014 - but only after they get the necessary city approval in place.

        The company will take advantage of a tax increment financing district already in place for Cortex, to the tune of about $20 million.

Credit (Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

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