IKEA Details Plans for City of St. Louis Store

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City of St. Louis - IKEA
{rendering of St. Louis IKEA looking southwest from Vandeventer and Forest Park Avenues}

It’s officially officially official. IKEA announced today that they will build a 380K sf store within the CORTEX district at Vandeventer and Forest Park Avenues. The desire to build at this location has been known for some time and late last week came confirmation that the mega-retailer was finally ready to put a stake in the ground.

There were few surprises today as IKEA representatives and city officials thanked the multitude of people involved in making the deal come together. The store will be located against Interstate 64 just west of Vandeventer Avenue and have 1,250 parking spaces, approximately 500 spaces will be at surface level beneath the store’s second level.

The site plan shows surface parking and access driveways fronting Vandeventer and Forest Park Avenues. This is contrary to early CORTEX visions which placed mixed-use buildings along Forest Park. The site is 21 acres, substantially larger than the footprint of either the Atlanta or Minneapolis area IKEA stores.

City of St. Louis - IKEA
{IKEA site plan shows ~700 of the 1,250 parking spaces on a surface lot}

While the stores was announced, remaining hurdles were presented as well. From nine landowners several years ago, the area now has just two; CORTEX and Laclede Gas. As reported here by nextSTL, Laclede Gas has a contract in place to sell to CORTEX. Still, IKEA must navigate the city’s permit process and win approval before it will acquire the land and break ground.

IKEA officials reported that they hope this process can be completed by Summer 2014. If so, the store would be set to open in Fall 2015. It was recently announced the the Kansas City area store would use geothermal heating and cooling as well as other green measures. Such investment is still under consideration for the St. Louis location, according to IKEA. The process remaining could open the opportunity for changes in the site plan, though this appears ulikely.

The IKEA name is big, but the importance of the announcement is the larger trend of CORTEX, retail investment and other nearby projects within the City of St. Louis. From our previous report:

IKEA Coming to the City of St. Louis


In the larger picture, the good news for the city isn’t about needs-assembly furniture or cheap meatballs, it’s the presence of a $100M annual sales retailer, the estimated one million shoppers and 400 employees the single store will bring. And because of the consumer traffic they generate, IKEA stores often attract other retailers. Pace Properties is planning another retail development east of Vandevanter named Midtown Station. That development was first reported here in July. Other development announcements including residential and additional retail is expected to follow soon.

Of course the important shift in development, and retail development into the City of St. Louis, will initially be lost in the fervor over the IKEA name, but the store is locating in the city for a reason. St. Louis is hot and the re-invention of the central corridor appears to just be beginning. The larger story isn't about a furniture store, it's about shift in development towards the city. The city is about to see the same principle of retail momentum play out in the nearby Central West End, as a mixed-use development featuring a 40K sf Whole Foods, the first in the city, will generate traffic and produce sales numbers that will encourage additional investment.

{the Minneapolis area IKEA store uses structured parking to fit on a smaller footprint}

{the Atlanta area IKEA store uses structured parking to fit on a smaller footprint}

CORTEX - St. Louis, MO
{early visioning plans for CORTEX showed big box retail (in red), with significant mixed-use buildings fronting Forest Park and Vandeventer Avenues}

Of course the list of large developments in this part of the region is long:

City of St. Louis - IKEA

  1. Center for Emerging Technologies – existing
  2. West End Lofts – existing, residential conversion completed
  3. Brauer Supply Building – existing, to be renovated
  4. 4240 Duncan Building – existing, under renovation
  5. CORTEX I – new construction, completed
  6. BJC @ The Commons – new construction, completed
  7. Solae / Dupont – new construction, completed
  8. 645 Newstead Lab – new construction, completed
  9. Shriners Hospital – new construction, under construction
  10. New I-64 interchange – new, under construction
  11. CORTEX Commons – new, under construction
  12. Mixed-use residential/retail – proposed
  13. Tech incubator
  14. New MetroLink Station – proposed
  15. IKEA – proposed
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  • Adam

    ugh… the FPP-fronting IKEA parking lot just makes no sense. particularly contrasted with this residential announcement.

  • John R.

    Looks like tax abatement was passed for not only IKEA this past week, but also for the adjacent mixed-use residential project on FPP (#12 on the image) and for the demo of the large steel-processing facility west of the grain elevators. Looks like the mixed-use project may be on the fast track?

  • Chris Meyers

    I hope this isn’t the final design plan. I really hope they tweak this before it is finalized! That big ass surface parking lot needs to go! Come on CORTEX, don’t let IKEA ruin your initial vision for this plat!

  • STLExplorer

    I’m not a huge fan of how different the actual Cortex map is from the master plan. Cortex Commons was one of the few things that I thought would be part of phase II, but it looks like we’ll just be getting a small plaza between Duncan and the tracks. That map really shows how massive the surface parking lots are, and how much they damage the cohesiveness of the district.

    Also, there is no underground parking in the Ikea plan. Just surface parking underneath the raised two story building. Adding an underground level would significantly reduce the need for that huge surface lot. Adding a ramp up to the roof for additional parking could potentially eliminate that need, or at least allow the store to get away with the small lot off to the side that was envisioned in the cortex master plan from last year. I really hope Duncan can remain thru to Vandy at the very least. If you’re walking across a huge surface lot already, what’s crossing a narrow street to get into Ikea? That would really allow a future mixed use development with structured parking to fill in the corner of FP and Vandy. Even with the current footprint of the store, Duncan could take a jog or bend to realign along the front of the Ikea.

  • Aaron

    What’s the story with that giant silo next to this sight. Is that protected or something? So odd that this district’s redevelopment plan leaves that alone. It’s such a dead space. Ikea parking would look better on that lot.

    • Don

      It’s a grain elevator owned and operated by Ray-Carroll County agri Co-Op. They own 10 or 12 elevators in central Missouri. It appears to be well maintained and operating. http://www.ray-carroll.com/PortalBuilder/Countries/RayCarroll/index.cfm?FuseAction=DisplayPage&PageID=87

      I’ve speculated that the cost of demolition would be high enough that no one has been interested in buying it and knocking it down for development.

      If this area booms the math might change.

      • Aaron

        That’s surprising, I’ve ridden by on MetroLink countless times in the last 8 years and have never seen much activity, the freight rail tracks leading to it are in terrible shape. I would have bet it was abandoned. Oh well, I guess we’ll all be looking at it for another decade or two.

        • Don

          For the same reason I also thought it was abandoned, but if you pass it on Duncan it appears very different. I think the only thing abandoned is the rail line with all the access now by truck.

        • Marshall Howell

          They use trucks, I don’t believe they have used any rail services for it in quite some time. Although I could be wrong. I live near by and have seen trucks there every now and then.

    • Kevin

      When I first moved to St Louis, I kind of wished they would tear down all these behemoth agricultural and manufacturing relics that were often abandoned. There are some that I still think need to go. But, oddly, I now kind of love these particular silos. I especially love that everything around them will be redeveloped and in the middle of it all is a reminder of the city’s agricultural past. And like so many have said, they are well maintained. (But wouldn’t it be cool if there were a mural or light show at night?)

      I’m pretty sure there’s not much in the way of repurposing the silos if they ever stop functioning. But I’ll love them until that day and hope they stay.

  • Adam

    Shouldn’t the city at least re-route Duncan back out to FPP instead of dead-ending it at the IKEA parking lot? That’s just stupid.

    • Brian

      You can easily get to FPP via Sarah. The last thing needed is yet another stoplight on FPP; there will be one at the western boundary of the Ikea site, and it makes no sense to locate another one a few yards away.

  • kuan

    Quick question, has anyone done a rundown of all the Ikea’s out there and their locations? As far as urban locations, is this Ikea far more “urban” than average. In that same respect, does it become an outlier? I imagine assembling such large lots in the urban cores of other mid and large sized cities often poses a logistical nightmare, not to mention the cost barriers implicit. But, in St. Louis, this appeared to not be the case. I have not been following the development closely, but I imagine that civic incentive alone could not have been sufficient to induce construction. Thus, relatively low land values, etc. must have played a role in making the location attractive and feasible, as well.

    • kuan

      I actually found this source: http://www.ikeafans.com/directory/category/ikea-stores/location/United-States-/ and, if someone were inclined, I guess could go through each and eyeball to see if there is a more urban location. I clicked around for a little bit and didn’t see one.

    • Don

      It’s an interesting question. This is not the first urban Ikea in the U.S. About 4 years ago Ikea opened their first NYC store in Brooklyn re-purposing an old warehouse right on the harbor. That’s obviously a very different situation in a very different market.

      Ikea has an interactive map of their US locations. A quick look suggests the StL store is more urban than most. http://info.ikea-usa.com/StoreLocator/StoreLocator.aspx

      • Brian

        The New Haven Ikea is located in an urban spot, between the train station and I-95 on the old General Tire property, southwest of Wooster Square. It is more isolated than the proposed St. Louis location, but is only a mile or so from the New Haven Green.

      • kuan

        Ah, that’s right – I had forgotten about the Red Hook location. That’s famous – and for a variety of reasons, of course. One might argue that New York can always be considered in a league entirely separate and not so comparable from an urban perspective, to development typologies around the rest of the country. I wonder what sort of retail and secondary commercial services will result from such a strong attractor as Ikea. People will clearly be driving to Ikea, and from all over. Rhetorically, can development guidelines and city leaders direct this momentum to carry visitors into the Central West End?

        • Alex Ihnen

          CWE? IMO, no. The blocks surrounding this will be developed and add retail however. Retail anchors, even this large, don’t really spill over that far. The Minneapolis area store is a more compact design and the Atlanta store is in a similarly urban location as STL (pics above).

    • guest

      Outstanding observation, and applies not only to development sites but home choices/price as well. In what other major metro is more affordable to live “close in” to the region’s best amenities than out in the distant suburbs? St. Louis should be selling its value opportunity on so many levels.

  • T-Leb

    Why do they need tax payer subsidies? Can IKEA not build a store and be successful without?

    • Mike Brockman

      Agree, I was under the impression that the KC store was subsidy free…

      • Alex Ihnen

        The Merriam (KC) IKEA is being built in a TIF district, and in fact a TIF-funded strip mall that was never occupied was bulldozed to make room for the new store: http://www.pitch.com/kansascity/merriam-village-ikea/Content?oid=3028391

        • T-Leb

          How is IKEA different than Bass Pro Shop?

          • Marshall Howell

            A lot less country folks đŸ˜› St.Chuck can have that store. lol

  • t

    POOR SITE PLANNING!Hope the city planning department and related parties make them flip it or rotate it 90 degrees or something to get the building at the street and the parking to the side or back. Really 1250 parking spaces? How many spaces does one store need?

    • Urban Reason

      Personally, I’d prefer that surface parking like this just be prohibited within city limits. It should either be underground, rooftop, in a mixed-use garage, or otherwise out of view from the street.

    • Don

      I would think it’s really tough moving a hundred pounds of Ikea compressed particle board furniture in a 4’x6′ foot box on a bus or metro train, but I guess people could try.

      I’d prefer to load the big box stuff up in a car, and I’m guessing their market research has borne this out. I’m also guessing Ikea knows exactly how much parking they need as well, this not being their first rodeo. I’ll agree that I’d prefer to see that parking behind the store or in a two or three tier garage.

      I’m partial to the Minneapolis footprint above and would love to hear Ikea’s thinking on their site plan for the StL store.

    • Presbyterian

      Ikea typically has 1250 – 1500 spaces. They get one million visitors annually. That’s 20,000 visitors in a typical week. Half of that might be on a weekend. I’m glad 40% of the parking is structured… but I really wish 80% of it were structured.

      I wonder if there has been any discussion about shared structured parking being built as part of a mixed use project in the future? As the district fills out, I would hope for something like that.

  • pat

    Does anyone else see the irony of adding renewable energy like solar panels or geothermal along with a 1250 car parking lot?

    • Alex Ihnen

      Yes. I guess if you’re going to be a big box store, better to have solar panels and geo-thermal heating/cooling and access to transit, etc., but yes.

  • Joseph Frank

    Slight correction to the building list: #8, 645 S. Newstead, is an existing building dating from 1974 originally occupied by Monsanto. It has been renovated for several tenants including the FDA.


    (I work just up the street at 4480 Clayton Ave.)

    • Alex Ihnen

      Right – distinction I was trying to make is between old warehouses being rehabbed and purpose-built construction. This one’s older and kind of stuck in between those categories.

  • Urban Reason

    This is an absolutely wasteful use of that land and not something to applaud. Based on the previous plans it appeared the area now designated as surface lot would be home to a mixed use residential/retail building.

    The corner of Forest Park/Vandeventer should be a mixed-use building, not a parking lot. IKEA needs to put their lot on the side, on the roof, or underground.

    I understand that it’s exciting for some to have IKEA coming to St. Louis, but St. Louisans should not be applauding a permanent blight on the built environment. I hate this “take what we can get” mentality. The city deserves much better and IKEA isn’t going to pull out if St. Louisans require this change.

    If this is the final plan I am deeply saddened and angered by this. This will be a permanent development and we should demand more for our city and of our developers while we still can.

    EDIT: Link to image of previous plan with mixed-use building, city park, and unbroken street-grid. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7293/8743960393_83cc65d87a_z.jpg

  • wump

    this is not midtown. its west of vandeventer, that is the CWE

    • Alex Ihnen

      That’s true. It’s within the CWE neighborhood, but I think most would identify this area with a larger generic “Midtown”. Anyway, I don’t think it’s called Midtown anywhere… The proposed “Midtown Station” development is across Vandeventer and is in the Midtown neighborhood – FWIW.

    • Don

      Having lived here all my life, I can tell you no native would think of
      that location as anything but Midtown despite it technically being just
      inside the eastern border of the CWE.

      Everyone knows the CWE starts just west of Sarah. đŸ™‚

      • Marshall Howell

        I agree, though not a native and being in the city for 10 years I only considered the CWE as north of FP and west of Boyle. Then no further north of Delmar

        • wump

          That doesn’t make it true, just because you think it

          • Marshall Howell

            Never said it makes it true, but perception is reality. The more people that think its considered midtown the more midtown it becomes. More and more people that are coming in from out of the city/state that hear this as midtown will tend to make it more prominent

          • wump

            St louis city neighborhoods have defined boundaries, it doesn’t matter how many people call it the incorrect name.

          • Marshall Howell

            I don’t know why this has you all in a bunch, seems like you take it so personal.

  • Don

    Outstanding! This is tremendous news for the neighborhood, the City and the Metro area.

  • Randy

    Why not flip around the site plan and have the parking by I-64 and the building fronting Forest Park Ave?

    • Urban Reason

      I’d prefer the previous plan (where a mixed use building took the place of this lot), but even this simple change would be a dramatic improvement and far better for the streetscape and the built environment.

      • Eric5434

        I’m not so sure. An Ikea store is a giant blank wall. Better a parking lot that you can at least see and navigate across.

        • Urban Reason

          A valid point, and I too have a great dislike for windowless walls that create dead-zones for pedestrians. It’s far from ideal, but personally I think they create far less of a blight on the urban form than do giant surface lots on urban corners.

          But IKEA is already building 750 underground parking spots at this location. Is is not reasonable to ask they reserve this corner for the mixed-use development originally intended for it? To preserve Duncan as a through street? The space they want to occupy was MASSIVE even before they took the corner, it’s not going to hurt them or the city to confine this to the original design.

          The bottom line is that St. Louis deserves better than this design, and I feel like we need to start demanding it. This city has a history of taking whatever it can get, as though desperate and unworthy, and not wanting to step on toes or make even reasonable demands of developers to preserve the urban aesthetic of our city.

          (Also, it wasn’t me who downvoted you, just so you know.)

          • Don

            Is is not reasonable to ask they reserve this corner for the mixed-use development originally intended for it?

            I’m not so sure that they are not doing just that. Perhaps, in time that corner location would be available for more retail development that would include additional structured parking.

            I’m convinced at this point in time there is a real limit to how much retail that area can support. I’ve no interest in trading the clean up and retail development of the old Federal-Mogul brake plant immediately east of this site for a more ideal retail corner and Vandy and FPP.

            As residential density increases in this area — and it surely will — I hope increased retail demand will compel the development of the Vandy / FPP corner.

            Looks like Duncan as a through street is a goner no matter how you slice it. Less than perfect, but not a deal breaker from my perspective.