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IKEA breaks ground on Miami-Dade store

IKEA, the iconic home goods retailer, is now a step closer to opening its first Miami-Dade store, after breaking ground in Sweetwater on Tuesday.

The new store, which will be the Swedish retailer’s fourth and largest in Florida, is set to open in the summer of 2014. It will be about a third larger than IKEA’s other South Florida store, located in Sunrise.

“We’re excited about growing our presence in the United States, particularly in Florida, where we also have stores in Sunrise, Tampa and Orlando,” said Joseph Roth, IKEA’s U.S. public affairs manager.

IKEA offers a range of style-savvy home furnishings at low prices, from furniture and kitchen cabinets to cookware, clocks and Swedish foods.

The new 416,000 square-foot IKEA store will feature nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, 50 room settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area and a 600-seat restaurant serving Swedish specialties along with and American dishes.

The store expects to hire and train 350 new local employees, who will join 13,000 in the United States and 139,000 worldwide, Roth said.

Founded 70 years ago in Älmhult,Sweden, privately owned IKEA has a total of 38 stores in the United States and 340 worldwide.

Last year, the company generated $4.1 billion in revenue in the United States, alone, and the Sunrise store was among its top performers, Roth said.

IKEA Miami, as the Sweetwater store will be called, will be built on 14.6 acres adjacent to the Dolphin Mall, near the intersection of the Florida Turnpike and the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836), at 1801 N.W. 117th Ave., Sweetwater.

“We’re thrilled with the location,” said Michael Maier, IKEA real estate manager.

Because the site is smaller that most IKEA sites, the store will be built on top of two levels of parking, Maier said.

IKEA bought the Sweetwater property from Procacci Development Corp., based in Boca Raton. The company paid $31.5 million for the land in November 2012, said Chief Executive Philip J. Procacci, who was on hand for the ground breaking.

“I think it’s a perfect use for this site,” he said, after the groundbreaking.

IKEA has hired Balfour Beatty Construction as the general contractor to build the new store. The contractor plans to peak at 400 workers as it completes the nearly $73 million project, said Clint Glass, senior vice president of Balfour Beatty.

Not only will the new store be larger than the one in Sunrise, it will also have more parking spaces, with 1,500, versus 1,100.

“IKEA opening this store solidifies us as a retail destination,” said Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Maroño. “And it will become an iconic footprint in the city of Sweetwater.”