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Ikea’s groundbreaking in Merriam likely to spur development nearby

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013, at 6:37 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, July 9, 2013, at 2:39 p.m.

When Ikea opened its new store in suburban Sacramento back in 2006, it pretty much had the place to itself.

But within a short period, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and a slew of new restaurants flocked around the blue-and-yellow Swedish home furnishings giant.

That same Scandinavian charisma is expected to draw additional development around the Ikea being built in Merriam near Interstate 35 and Johnson Drive. Tuesday marks the official groundbreaking of the 359,000-square-foot store that’s scheduled to open in fall 2014.

Not long ago, Bass Pro was considered one of the country’s premier “destination” retailers, a few-and-far-between business with such a powerful customer draw that other stores wanted to be close by to catch the shopping wave.

Developers based entire projects around Bass Pro, the biggest example locally being the The Falls at Crackerneck Creek at I-470 and I-70 in Independence.

But that was before Bass Pro opened multiple stores in the region. There are five in Missouri alone, plus one in Olathe. While still drawing boatloads of customers, the chain these days is a weaker magnet for other retailers. The Crackerneck Creek development, which has also battled the recession and tough economy, hasn’t filled out as expected and has needed millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

But Ikea is the real deal when it comes to being a destination.

The nearest Ikea stores to the new one going up in Merriam are several hundred miles away in the Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago areas. The company expects its store here will draw customers from a six-state area including metros such as Omaha, Wichita and Oklahoma City.

Ikeas have proven so popular as a destination, the stores offer package deals with hotels in Colorado, Texas and Florida that include Ikea gift cards, according to Joseph Roth, a spokesman for the retailer.

“We usually have three types of spin-off development,” Roth said. “One is other furniture or home furnishing retailers, then there’s any other business in town, and the third is when there’s already a shopping center, businesses want to be near an Ikea.”

Which is just fine with DDR Corp., the Cleveland-based company that owns the Merriam Town Center directly to the north of the new Ikea across Johnson Drive. DDR actually sold Ikea the property for its new store, which had been the site of the stillborn Merriam Village shopping center.

“The powerful regional draw that Ikea’s brand carries has solidified this center as a prime retail destination,” Paul Freddo, senior executive vice president at DDR, said in a statement.

DDR also owns 10 acres of land next to the new Ikea that’s available for additional stores.

DDR is no stranger to the Ikea development ripple effect. The firm owns property next to the Ikeas that have opened in recent years in Charlotte and Denver. Both have prospered in harmony with the Big Swede next door.

Roth said Ikea welcomes other furniture and home furnishing stores because all benefit from being in close proximity.

“It’s like a department store at a mall,” he said. “The more furniture stores you have in an area, the more of a destination for customers who are furniture shopping.”

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @kckansascity.

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