August 22, 2012

IKEA coming to Miami-Dade

The Swedish home furnishings retailer plans to build a store adjacent to Dolphin Mall. Expected opening is fall 2014.

The trademark IKEA big blue box is finally coming to Miami-Dade County.

Five years after opening its first Florida store in Sunrise, IKEA is ready to double its South Florida presence with a store just north of Dolphin Mall and facing the east side of the Florida Turnpike. The Swedish retailer known for its cheap, chic home furnishings announced late Wednesday that it is submitting plans to the city of Sweetwater for a 417,000-square foot store. If plans are approved, it would become the largest of IKEA’s four Florida locations.

Construction could begin as soon as spring 2013, allowing for a fall 2014 debut.

The retailer has been looking for a site in Miami for nearly a decade. But the challenge has been finding a big enough piece of land with the kind of central location and highway frontage that IKEA requires.

“We’ve always known long-term we needed a store in Miami-Dade,” said company spokesman Joseph Roth. “We were looking for the right site that would complement Sunrise. We wanted good access. We wanted good visibility.”

To make the 14.6 acre site work, IKEA will build the store on top of a two-level parking garage with 1,500 spaces. Although the overall site is smaller than Sunrise, the Miami IKEA store will be about 40 percent larger. The store will include about 10,000 of IKEA’s exclusive products, 50 room settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area and a 500 seat restaurant serving Swedish specialties like meatballs with lingonberries.

“We know Florida is a very good market for us so we want to make sure we have plenty of capacity,” said Roth.

Pending approval from the city of Sweetwater, IKEA will close on the purchase of the land from Procacci Development Corp of Boca. The city cleared the way for the deal a couple of months ago when it rezoned the land to allow retail use on what had been part of the Dolphin Commerce Center.IKEA’s arrival is welcome news for Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño, whose city annexed the Dolphin Mall and the land where IKEA will go in Dec. 2010.

“I’ve always wanted an IKEA in that area, just because it’s iconic,” Maroño said. “We need something to leave an impression in people’s minds that it’s Sweetwater. It’s going to help the brand name of the city. IKEA is going to be a big draw, bringing people from Key West to Naples.”

IKEA expects the new store will create more than 500 jobs during construction, which is expected to last about 18 months. After opening, IKEA would employ about 400 people.

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