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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

TAMPA, FL-Ikea’s grand entrance into Florida last fall continues to hold strong, with giant walls being erected for its third location here. Crowds are continuing to flock to the Swedish home furnishing chain’s first statewide stores in Sunrise and Orlando.

A 353,000-sf store with surface parking for 1,700 vehicles continues on a 29-acre industrial redevelopment site at Adamo Drive and 22nd Street, just south of Tampa’s Ybor City historic district. The location is on schedule to open next summer and will be Ikea’s sixth in the Southeast, developed in only the last three years, as well as its 37th nationwide and among nearly 300 worldwide.

“With steel and the roof going up next, and then the iconic blue and yellow design later this fall, we hope to be fully enclosed by winter,” Michael Maier, Ikea real estate manager, said in a release updating the progress of the Tampa store. “We know there are many shoppers anxious for us to open.”

Current Ikea customers in the Tampa market are either continuing to order furniture and other items by mail or driving to the Orlando store, which opened last October. Until the Sunrise store opened, also last October, the nearest Ikea location to Florida was Atlanta. One other regional store has since opened in Woodbridge, VA, while another is set to open this spring in Charlotte, NC.

Customer traffic remains strong at the first two Ikea stores in Florida, a company spokesman said. Results for specific stores are not disclosed by the privately held retailer, which posted $2.9 billion in sales nationwide last year.

Tampa’s new Ikea promises a selection of nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, most of which are cheaply made and easily assembled, with 50 different room settings throughout the store. Other store features include a 350-seat restaurant serving specialties such as Swedish meatballs, along with a children’s play area.

Online applications are now being accepted for the 400 jobs expected to be generated by the Ikea opening. Positions range from security and food service to home furnishing sales and interior decoration.

Ikea is building its store on a redeveloped industrial site formerly known as Tampa International Center. All buildings were demolished and cleared after the $25.4-million site acquisition was completed in January, except for a small maintenance building along Adamo Drive that Ikea will continue to lease to Verizon Communications Inc.

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