The 44th IKEA furniture store in the United States is still slated for a summer opening in Columbus.
“We broke ground last May 25,” said Joseph Roth, IKEA’s public affairs manager. “We’ve come a long way and things are going well. We’re still saying summer 2017.”
The 354,000-square-foot store at Interstate 71 and Gemini Place in the Polaris Centers of Commerce was enclosed in time for winter, and the road work completed.
“Delaware County, ODOT, the City of Columbus and the City of Westerville were very cooperative,” Roth said. “The road was planned for quite a while, but we’re pleased we’re the cause for getting it built sooner.”
Touting its commitment to sustainability, Roth said the store is built with recycled materials, uses LED lighting and skylights, and half of the rooftop solar panels are installed and ready to be operational in the spring.
Although the space is currently empty, members of Dublin-based Pepper Construction are busy working on the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and interior carpentry. Among the many projects is installing an escalator, which currently sits on the showroom floor near the entrance.
Next, walls will be painted, a top coat will be applied to the 1,200-space parking lot, and landscaping will be done. This spring, many of the 300 store employees will be hired, and they’ll be required to assemble IKEA furniture just like their customers.
However, the store already has a manager: David Garcia, an Argentinian who has worked at IKEAs in Spain, Russia and most recently Long Island. Garcia said the store has also hired some managers from other IKEAs, as well as some from the Columbus area.
“IKEA recognizes the customer base that exists in central Ohio, so I am pleased about providing the 160,000 customers who currently are shopping at IKEA – as well as future new customers – with a store of their own,” Garcia said. “At the same time, I also am excited about growing IKEA culture among new coworkers from the Columbus community.”
Garcia said the Columbus IKEA is typical in layout to many of the Swedish chain’s other stores. For those who may not have stepped foot inside, he said the store consists of three main areas. First is a furniture showroom with 50 room settings, and three model home interiors.
Next is a marketplace, which has specialty shops of accessories and seasonal displays. Finally, there is a self-serve warehouse where customers put their flat-packed furnishings on a trolley and check out.
The store also has a 450-seat restaurant that serves Swedish specialties such as three types of meatballs, lingonberries, salmon plates and American fare. There is also an area for children to play and a bistro.
Garcia and Roth said there will be a store greeter, catalogs and a marked path to help guide customers through the store. In addition, an IKEA smartphone application will be available for customers once the Columbus store opens.
Roth said it isn’t unusual for a customer to walk a mile inside the store and spend two or three hours during their visit. The hours will be 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.
What the average customer won’t see is the employee cafeteria and open offices on the second floor — all furnished with IKEA products, Roth said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.