IKEA breaks ground on Norfolk store

Ikea groundbreaking event. November 17, 2017 (Photo courtesy: Erin Kelly)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Swedish home furnishings store IKEA held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of its future Norfolk location Friday morning.

The building will be a 331,000 square-foot store at the northwest corner of Interstate 64 and Northampton Boulevard. The mega-furniture store will feature several areas inside the building, including a children’s play area and a 450-seat restaurant — with Swedish meatballs. It will also have 1,000 parking spots.

The IKEA store will be located near the new Norfolk Premium Outlets.

Local and state officials, including Mayor Kenny Alexander and Governor Terry McAuliffe, were on hand for the ceremony. Gov. McAuliffe called it a big win for Virginia.

“To have an IKEA, it sends a message to those other countries in Europe, if you want to come to America and be successful, come to Virginia, so it really has a ripple effect,” he said.

Mayor Kenneth Alexander said the move brings more than merchandise to the city.

“A couple of million dollars in new taxes, however, IKEA will probably spend about $75 million dollars in construction, creating 500 construction jobs and another 250 permanent jobs,” he said.

Mayor Alexander said the city is looking at ways to accommodate the traffic from new projects in the area.

“Hopefully we will continue to expand our transportation options. Light rail certainly is something that’s on the table,” he said.

PHOTOS: IKEA Norfolk Groundbreaking Ceremony

Norfolk’s first IKEA store was slated to open in the summer of 2018, but will instead open in the Spring of 2019. The retailer said it had to push back the opening to tweak plans on the project.

IKEA said during construction the project is expected to support 500 jobs. Once the store opens, it will employ about 250 workers and bring millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city.

The state put up $9.3 million toward the project. In 2016, Norfolk city council voted to give an additional $500,000 for a project to bring the store to the area. The city said the money will help offset extra developmental costs. This funding is in additional to $5 million Norfolk is already spending for the planned store.

Because of traffic concerns at the corner of Interstate 64 and Northampton Boulevard due to several projects, several major changes to roadways are in the works now. According to Gov. McAuliffe, the Northampton Boulevard interchange at I-64 West is being 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 as well.

The Norfolk location will be the second IKEA store in Virginia.