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OAK CREEK - Beyond just paving the way, Oak Creek is naming the way for the new Ikea, which is on pace to become one of the fastest development turnarounds for the Swedish-based retailer.

While naming the new access road South Ikea Way is a small step, it's one more in a series of fast-paced approvals since Ikea announced its plans in May 2016 to open its signature big-box retail store in the city near Drexel Avenue and Interstate 94.

So far, the project to construct the 295,000-square-foot facility is on schedule for a summer 2018 opening, with a groundbreaking expected this summer, City Administrator Andrew Vickers said. Additionally, he said he was told the project, from inception to occupancy, is moving along exceptionally fast, based on past Ikea store developments.

Road to Ikea

To stay on that path, the common council recently officially named the road that will lead up to the development. The route is a continuation of South 20th Street, which currently ends at Drexel Avenue west of I-94. The extension, which will also be identified as South Ikea Way on future maps, had no name until the Jan. 17 meeting.

All were in favor of the name except Alderman Mark Verhalen, who said a stretch of road that has multiple names can be confusing. He suggested the city should just continue using South 20th Street as the name of the extension.

Director of Community Development Doug Seymour countered that viewpoint, noting there are already several sections of South 20th Street that are not connected.

“It makes sense to link the name with the main user,” Seymour said.

The final vote was 5-1 in favor of the South Ikea Way name.

Project progress

Other than the naming of the road, the rest of the project work being done is behind the scenes – or beneath them.

The city is moving forward with underground utility work on the newly named road. In addition, Vickers said there are weekly construction planning and coordination meetings held between contractors and the city.

“We’re grinding on coordination of building plans and approval processes,” Vickers said.

Vickers said he hopes to see a full, comprehensive set of blueprints within the next 45 to 60 days.

The original plans announced in May 2016 included retail space for about 10,000 items designed exclusively for Ikea. The design incorporates 50 inspirational room settings and three model home interiors. Additionally, a children's play area, along with a 300-seat restaurant that set to serve both American and Swedish cuisine, are part of the plans.

In July 2016, the Oak Creek common council passed a new tax incremental financing (TIF) district created primarily to assist Ikea to build in the city.

The store is expected to employ about 250 workers.

Founded in 1943 in Sweden, Ikea primarily offers home furnishings. There are currently more than 380 Ikea stores in 48 countries.

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