NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Popular home furnishings retailer IKEA unveiled plans Tuesday to open a new store in Norfolk.
IKEA representatives, along with Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, were on-hand at Slover Library Tuesday to announce the new location, which is slated to open in the summer of 2018.
The closest IKEA stores to the Hampton Roads area at the moment are in Woodbridge, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
IKEA officials say the new store will be 331,000 square-feet, and feature a 300-seat cafeteria-style restaurant with a wide variety of food between Swedish meatballs and pizza.
“IKEA’s decision to build a new store is a game changer for Norfolk residents and the region,” Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim said on Tuesday.
Speaking at Tuesday, McAuliffe noted that the state put up $9.3 million toward the project. He announced several major changes to roadways surrounding the proposed location at the northwest corner of Interstate 64 and Northampton Boulevard.
McAuliffe says the Northampton Boulevard interchange at I-64 West will be widened from two lanes to four lanes. There will also be a new traffic signal with two lanes going left, and two lanes going right.
The merge lanes going on to I-64 West from Northampton Boulevard will be extended. Of the changes, McAuliffe said, “All of this so more folks can come to IKEA.”
The announcement of a IKEA store is the latest project for the city of Norfolk. In March, it was announced that ADP would be investing $32.5 million for a new location in downtown Norfolk.
“This is good economically for the whole area in retail to bring in more business. Once you bring in a big business like IKEA you bring in more businesses,” said McAuliffe. “It’s another great win. The last time I was here, we talked about ADP — and they are already exceeding our projections and it’s great. We had 3.8 percent unemployment the other day, the lowest since May of 2008.”
Norfolk is currently in the process of demolishing the exterior of the Waterside District annex. The district is expected to open in the spring of 2017.
IKEA says it is filing plans with the city of Norfolk, and is seeking approval by the fall of 2016. If the plans are approved, IKEA says they hope to break ground on the project in the spring of 2017.
According to Joseph Roth, Public Affairs Manager for IKEA, the city will be selling the land to the store owners.
“The City of Norfolk is a city that knows how to get things done. This is a very complicated real-estate transaction and complicated site to fit an IKEA store on. The Mayor made it happen, and the Governor on top of that,” said Roth. “It’s a fast growing and large population base here (in Norfolk), and typically we only need approximately 2 million people to support a store.”