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WEST CHESTER, OH-Ikea plans to open its first Ohio store, a 344,000-sf facility, here by March 12. The new store will go up on 28 acres of a 56-acre parcel along I-75 at the southeastern corner of Allen and Muhlhauser roads, south of the Union Centre Boulevard exit.

The company already operates 33 of its massive furniture stores in the US, including four others in the Midwest, including two in the Chicago area, a store in Canton, MI and a store in Bloomington, MN. The store in this suburb of Cincinnati is now under construction, and should be complete by March, said store officials in a statement. The company plans to hire 400 employees for the new store.

A company spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the Sweden-based firm has been trying to get into the Ohio market for some time. “We have been analyzing where to go, either Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati,” he says. “This is a very fast-growing area, and is accessible to all parts of the market. From West Chester, it’s a two-hour radius from Indianapolis; Louisville, KY; Dayton, OH; Columbus and Lexington, KY. We don’t open many stores a year, and we hoped to complete a large area presence.”

He says the company would like to open more stores in the Midwest, but will now have to wait for its new distribution center to open in Joliet, IL. “Once we hit five stores, we’re at a critical mass to need a distribution center,” the spokesman says. Ikea is buying 72 acres in the 352-acre Laraway Crossings Business Park, an industrial and distribution park at Route 53 and Laraway Road in Joliet. Ikea has received approvals from the city for its property plans, but has not fully completed the land purchase from Ryan Cos., the developer of the park, the spokesman says. Ikea wants to build a 650,000-sf facility that will open as early as spring 2009 and may expand the facility by an additional 770,000-sf.

“Once that distribution center is completed, we can continue our growth in the region,” the spokesman says. “We’re very bullish on the Midwest, people there definitely value function, style and affordable prices.” The company is also opening stores this year in Brooklyn, NY; Charlotte, NC; Somerville, MA; and Tampa, FL.

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