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TEMPE, AZ-Home furnishings chain IKEA moved closer to opening its first Valley store with the acquisition of a 23-acre parcel near the northeast corner of Interstate 10 and Warner Road in Tempe that will soon become home to its first Arizona venture.

Shelby Tworek with NAI Horizon’s Phoenix office says the firm plans to begin construction on a two-story, 300,000-sf store early next year with the opening planned for fourth quarter 2004. The cost of the land was not disclosed, but Tworek says the price tag for the property was “several million dollars.”

California-based IKEA originally planned to make a move into the Valley in 2006, but moved up that deadline after finding that the growth of the Phoenix market could support an earlier opening. “They started to realize how significant this valley is in terms of sales,” Tworek tells GlobeSt.com. “They started to understand how many people who live in Arizona were going to the IKEAs in California.”

Tworek says IKEA had been searching for more than two years for the ideal location when the firm approached Tom Tait, owner of Tait Investments, about purchasing part of a 200-acre site that he had planned to develop into a master-planned office community, known as Emerald Center.

“From IKEA’s standpoint, they needed visibility from I-10, partly to pull in business from the Tucson area,” Tworek says. “Part of IKEA’s strategy is to have freeway visibility and given I-10 is one of the most visible freeways in the Valley, there wasn’t much choice.”Tworek said IKEA is presently planning only one store for the Arizona market but may reassess those plans based on the store’s success.

Tworek along with Chris Gerow and John Filli, with NAI Horizon’s Phoenix office, and Tony Beatty, with NAI BT Commercial in Oakland, CA, represented IKEA in the site selection and purchase. Tom Tait Jr. represented Tait Investments in the land deal.

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