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JOLIET, IL-Ikea has signed a contract to purchase 72 acres in the 352-acre Laraway Crossings Business Park, an industrial and distribution park at Route 53 and Laraway Road. Ikea is purchasing the property from Ryan Cos., the developer of the park. Ikea will construct a 650,000-sf facility that will open as early as spring 2009 and may expand the facility an additional 770,000-sf. The sales price was not disclosed. The closing will be some time this summer, says Joseph Roth, director of public affairs for Ikea.

The location will be near the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, in Elwood, which will make it easier for Ikea to receive product to the distribution enter by rail, says Tim Hennelly, vice president of development at Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. Ikea thought the Joliet location would allow them to be close to the rail center and would also allow them to have easy access to Interstate 80.

Construction is expected to begin on the first phase next year, Roth says. The Midwestern Distribution Center will join a distribution center at 202 Little Hearst Parkway in Port Wentworth, GA which will open this summer and distribution centers in Bristol, PA; Perryville, MD; Tejon, CA; Westhampton, NJ; as well as two stores in Canada: Vancouver, BC and Brossard, QC. A distribution center is also being built in Tacoma, WA. The Joliet center will be consistent with most of the other centers. In addition to distribution space, the building will have an office area, two low bays and one high bay and “state of the art technology,” Roth says. “It is fairly self-automated,” he says.

The distribution center will employ about 150 people when it opens in 2009. The center will be used to distribute products to stores primarily in the Midwest; including stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg in Illinois and in Bloomington, MN and Canton, MI. The center will also distribute products to a store in West Chester, OH once it opens next year. There are more than 250 IKEA stores with 29 currently in the United States, according to a released statement.

With the sale of the 72 acres to Ikea, approximately half of the park is accounted for, Hennelly says. “This will leave 200 acres to build on,” he says. Cadbury Schweppes plc, a confectionary and beverages company, leases a 475,104-sf building in the park at 401 E. Laraway Road. A spec building that is 374,400 sf, and is expandable to 750,000 sf, is also currently located in the park.

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