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IKEA is I-COMING: Construction to start in spring 2017 (UPDATE)

Meatballs and jobs.

Construction of Wisconsin’s first IKEA store should begin around this time next year, and is expected to finish by summer the following year.

Making a formal announcement Wednesday at Oak Creek City Hall, officials with the Swedish furniture and accessories retailer said they were submitting plans to the city for a 295,000-square-foot store.

IKEA has plans for a store on a 29-acre site at the northwestern corner of Interstate 94 and Drexel Avenue, about 12 miles south of downtown Milwaukee.

The company expects to receive all necessary city approvals for the project by this fall, and will select a contractor shortly thereafter.

Dan Bukiewicz, an Oak Creek alderman and president of the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council, said there is nothing to prevent the city from signing off on the project within that timeframe.

Construction of the facility should require around 500 workers, said Oak Creek mayor Steve Scaffidi.

“When you build a building the size of that building, you put construction people to work,” he said. “In this state, that’s really important. So an estimated 500 people working on this project to get it up and running by summer 2018, that’s significant.”

Scaffidi also noted that community members have been clamoring for an IKEA for quite some time. In a 2012 survey conducted by the city asking residents what they would like to see brought to the area, he said, both “more restaurants” and an “IKEA store” were among the most common answers from respondents.

“That’s pretty significant,” Scaffidi said. “They didn’t identify any other chain by name but IKEA.”

IKEA officials are also considering using renewable energy as part of its power source for the Oak Creek location.

Liz Gabor, real estate manager with IKEA, said the company is looking into the feasibility of the store using solar energy. Nearly 90 percent of the company’s U.S. stores draw power from renewable-energy sources.


A rendering of the Oak Creek IKEA (Rendering courtesy of IKEA)

Oak Creek’s IKEA will mark the furniture retailer’s most recent installment in a series of Midwestern locations.

Joseph Roth, expansion and public affairs manager for IKEA, said the Milwaukee area has been a focus for the company in the years following its initial entry into the country.

“IKEA opened its first U.S. store in 1985 in suburban Philadelphia,” Roth said. “Since then, we have grown and prospered on both coasts. And now with 41 stores in the U.S., mostly in the east and in the west, we are focused on filling in the middle.”

IKEA had been seriously considering building an Oak Creek store since at least last summer. Company officials first reached out to the city in August to express their interest in the area, Scaffidi said.

This was also around the same time IKEA started talks with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, the company that owned the 29 acres of land just off I-94.

“We own land near our Franklin campus, and our goal has been to control development of the property in support of the long-range vision of the Oak Creek and Franklin communities,” Tom Zale, vice president of Northwestern Mutual real estate, said in a statement. “When IKEA approached us in 2015, we saw the company as a good fit for the vision of these communities.”

The Oak Creek store, when finished, will be smaller than nearby locations. IKEA has two Illinois stores, both in the Chicago area. The Bolingbrook, Ill., store measures 310,000 square feet, while the company’s largest U.S. store in Schaumburg, Ill., comes in at about 450,000 square feet. The IKEA in the Twin Cities suburb of Bloomington, Minn., is 336,000 square feet.

IKEA was founded in 1943, and has more than 380 stores in 48 countries, including 41 in the U.S.

Oak Creek has recently been the source of significant development. IKEA joins the swath of new buildings that have already been built or are under construction in the Milwaukee suburb.

Scaffidi said he expects the city will have seen $500 million worth of new development by the end of next year, though he admitted that number is a bit higher than the upper $300 million range that other city officials have estimated.

About Alex Zank, [email protected]

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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