It's official: St. Louis IKEA to open in 2015, bring hundreds of jobs

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by Brendan Marks / KMOV.com | @BrendanMarks

Diana Zoga / News 4 | @DIANAZOGA

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 5:51 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 4:24 PM

(KMOV) -- Popular Swedish retailer IKEA announced it will build a 380,000 sq. ft. store expected to open in fall 2015 in midtown St. Louis.

The company said during a Wednesday morning press conference the store will be located on Forest Park Ave. near Interstate 64. Ground breaking is planned for the summer of 2014.

According to IKEA, the two-story store will be built on top of a parking structure that will contain roughly 1,250 spaces. More parking will also be available in a lot to be constructed at Forest Park Ave.

The store, which will sit on 21 acres of land, is projected to generate $250 million in new taxes. 

Related: Photos of the IKEA St. Louis proposal

The project is expected to bring about 500 construction jobs and IKEA says it will hire 300 full-time workers.

Company officials said the store will have a prominent perch in the new CORTEX research park and will be the first IKEA location in Missouri.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the store is part of retailers fleeing to the city instead of the suburbs like in the past.

In September 2012, St. Louis residents who were hoping for an IKEA were disappointed when the retailer said it was building its next Midwest store in the Kansas City area. That store is expected to open in Merriam, Ks. in the fall of 2014.

IKEA will still have to go through the permit process in the city and the Board of Aldermen would have to sign off on a tax increment financing package before IKEA officially buys the land.  

Already, the board has approved a $168 million TIF for the entire CORTEX district.  Each project area would get a portion of that.  IKEA's project area is tied to another four acre site that is currently under negotiations for another tenant.  

IKEA and the nearby site are eligible for a $37 million dollar TIF, said Otis Williams - the executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation.

A request for information about state economic incentives was not answered by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.  Williams said that discussions have begun with the state for additional incentives, but no specific agreements have been made.

The look of the central corridor of St. Louis will change in other ways.

As part of the CORTEX district, CEO and President Dennis Lower said Cortex is working to raise approximately $10 million for a new MetroLink station on the Cortex campus.  Lower said CORTEX  hopes to raise the money and get approval from Metro in a year.  If that happens, plans call for construction to begin in 2015 and the station to open by 2016.

Lower says he's often asked about transportation by international companies that express an interest in moving into CORTEX. 

"One of the things that is always asked, and it's usually early in the conversation, is tell me about your public transportation," said Lower.

IKEA currently has 38 locations throughout the U.S. The closest stores to St. Louis are currently located in the Chicago area in Schaumburg and Bolingbrook, Ill. 

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