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COLLEGE PARK, MD- Almhult, Sweden-based home furnishings behemoth Ikea has swung open the doors of its 370,000-sf store in College Park to a swarm of enthusiastic shoppers who eagerly awaited its debut. There are only two other stores in the greater Washington, DC region; one in Baltimore, and the other in Woodbridge, VA. This newest retail outlet–developed at a cost of $60 million–marks the company’s 16th locale in the US, and its first US store to be developed under an expansion plan, which calls for the opening of 50 new outlets in North America over the next decade.

Located on a 26-acre parcel near the Capital Beltway and Rte. 1 just outside of Beltsville, Ikea College Park is a two-story shopping depot with an interior large enough to accommodate five model homes, 55 individual room settings, several play areas and a 450-seat restaurant. Owners and area officials expect to see about 1,500 automobiles making their way to the store via Rte. 1 on the weekends. In anticipation of the influx of traffic, Ikea spent several million dollars to fund the Maryland State Highway Administration’s infrastructure adjustments in the area, which are designed to mitigate travel complications stemming from the additional road activity.

“Entering this new market for Ikea is an achievement that could not have happened without the tremendous local support from a variety of government officials,” Ikea Real Estate manager Brad Prevost says in a statement from the July 2002 groundbreaking ceremony for the store. Organizations including the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince George’s County Office of the County Executive, and the Beltsville Citizens Association all participated in facilitating Ikea’s entrée into the area. Regional organizations were eager to have the store built, not only because of the potential revenue it will bring to the city, but also because of the 450 new jobs it has created.

Ikea may be in for more building activity at the site. The 26-acre parcel is partially undeveloped and the company is considering allowing commercial construction on the land. Ikea is currently mulling over proposals from hopeful developers.

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