here to visit IKEA's website.
here to learn more about big box retail.
The IKEA Proposal:
A Brief History
Since 1997, Swedish furniture
retailer IKEA has publicly pursued plans to build a large, "big
box" furniture and home furnishings store in the City Park
Redevelopment Area. IKEA had considered several sites in New Rochelle
before focusing on City Park but found sizes inadequate to accommodate
an IKEA store. The City of New Rochelle then approached the company
and suggested that they consider building the store on the City
Park site, which had long been targeted by the City for redevelopment.
With 159 stores in 29 countries, IKEA is one of the world's largest
furniture retailers. The United States is home to fifteen IKEA stores.
Generally located outside of major cities along highways, they range
from about 250,000 to 325,000 square feet in size. The New Rochelle
project was to be IKEA's third store in the New York metropolitan
area, forming a "triangle matrix" with existing stores
in Hicksville, NY and Elizabeth, NJ. The New Rochelle store was
expected to draw customers from Westchester and areas north, Connecticut,
northern New Jersey, the Bronx, and Manhattan. IKEA anticipated
that the proposed store would achieve sales of $87 million based
on projected 2003 household counts within its trade area. By diverting
drawing customers from the trade areas of the existing IKEAs, the
presence of a New Rochelle store would have decreased sales at the
Elizabeth store by 13% to $132. million and at the Hicksville store
by 7% to $78.1 million. Ultimately, IKEA plans to have a store in
each of New York City's five boroughs in addition to one in Westchester.
In February of 1999,
IKEA obtained an Exclusivity Agreement with the City of New Rochelle,
which bound the City to deal exclusively with IKEA in redeveloping
the City Park neighborhood. In April of 1999, the City designated
the City Park site "blighted" based on a study by Ferrandino
& Associates. This designation made the site eligible as an
urban renewal area in which the City can assemble parcels of land
into a development site using eminent domain.
IKEA subsequently put
forth a preliminary plan to build a two-story 308,000 square foot
store with approximately 1,572 off-street parking spaces on 14.9
acres of land in the urban renewal area. The plan is described in
detail in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), prepared
by Tim Miller Associates, Inc. and released in September 2000. As
described in the DEIS, the building was to be 300 feet wide, 722
feet long, and 36 feet high, with the main entrance facing south
toward the New England Thruway. In conformance with the standardized
design concept of IKEA International, the store was to be painted
blue with yellow signage. Along the south and west sides of the
building would have been a parking deck approximately 11.5 feet
in height. Additional grade level parking was to be provided on
site underneath and to east, west, and south of the building.
Building the proposed
structure would have required the removal of all existing structures
on the site, which include 33 commercial or mixed use structures,
two churches, and 31 residential buildings. All residents and businesses
were to be displaced. Although the City was treating the site as
an urban renewal area and intended to use eminent domain to acquire
the land if the project was approved, IKEA attempted to purchase
the individual properties independently. In April 2000, IKEA began
acquiring property at its own risk without having secured project
approval from the City. The company's first property acquisition
was the purchase of nearly two acres of land from Gerard Daniel
& Company, for which IKEA paid $2 million. IKEA intended to
relocate each resident and business owner to another home or business
space in or near the New Rochelle area.
According to IKEA's estimates,
the company would have paid $1.9 million annually in property taxes
for the store, of which $245,000 would have gone to Westchester
County; $64,000 to the New Rochelle Sewer District; $395,000 to
the City of New Rochelle; and $1.2 million to the New Rochelle School
District. The present occupants of the area pay a total of $683,000
in property taxes annually. IKEA waived the ten year property tax
abatement offered as an incentive by the City of New Rochelle.
IKEA estimated that the
proposed store would have generated a total of $7.59 million in
sales tax revenue, $3.68 million of which would have gone to New
York State; $1.38 million to Westchester County; $2.3 million to
the City of New Rochelle; and $230,000 to the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority. (these figures come from Gdula's visit)
The proposed store was
to employ approximately 350 workers, 180 of which would be part-time.
Clearing the site for the store would likely have resulted in a
net loss of employment in the area. The DEIS identified 33 businesses
and gave employment counts for only 26 of these. According to data
from Cushman & Wakefield and a Claritas Business Facts Report,
these 26 businesses employ a total of between 327 and 347 people.
As an evaluation of the DEIS by Abeles Philips pointed out, these
employment figures leave out nearly a quarter of the businesses
in the redevelopment area. If all businesses were included, the
total numbers of jobs could be 20-25% higher than the number given
in the DEIS.
The dramatic increases
in traffic volumes that the proposed store would have drawn were
a major concern both to IKEA and the community. According to the
DEIS, the proposed store would have generated 183 inbound and 172
outbound car trips during the Friday PM peak hour (5:00 - 6:00 pm).
On Saturdays, it would have generated 740 inbound and 567 outbound
trips during the midday peak hour (2:30 - 3:30 pm) and 638 inbound
and 869 outbound trips during the PM peak (4:00 - 5:00 pm). During
sale weeks, which occur about 10% of the year, inbound traffic during
the Saturday midday peak would have reached nearly 1,000 cars.
In order to mitigate
the increased traffic, IKEA had proposed to make numerous off-site
transportation improvements at its own expense. Fifth Avenue was
to be widened from two lanes and 30 feet in width to three or four
lanes at 35 to 45 feet in width between Valley Place and Portman
Road, allowing for left turn lanes at three locations. Portman Road
and Valley Place were also to be widened in order to accommodate
turn lanes. Additionally, the traffic mitigation plan called for
the installation of traffic signals at six nearby intersections.
Analyses of the DEIS
traffic study by several urban planning consultancies called the
document's findings into question. Reviews of the DEIS by Daniel
Gutman and by Buckhurst, Fish & Jacquemart, Inc. assert that
traffic volumes were underestimated in the DEIS study and that the
proposed mitigation measures on the part of IKEA would be inadequate.
BFJ argued that the peak hours chosen for the DEIS study were not
the hours at which traffic volumes would actually be the highest.
Moreover, it was argued that the weeks following the release of
the IKEA catalog in late summer would bring more traffic than the
January sale week chosen to represent maximum traffic volumes of
(cite Daniel Gutman, "Traffic, Air Quality, and IKEA: A Review
of the DEIS of the Proposed IKEA in New Rochelle" 12/14/00;
Buckhurst, Fish & Jacquemart, "Comments on the October
2000 DEIS Prepared on Behalf of the Town of Mamaroneck," 12/14/00)
A long and persistent
campaign on the part of community groups armed with technical critiques
of the proposal and the DEIS ultimately derailed IKEA's effort.
In response to the public outcry, Mayor Idoni sent a letter to IKEA
officials in December requesting that they investigate the feasibility
of reducing the size of the proposed to 260,000 square feet or less
and building a south-bound exit ramp off I-95.
IKEA canceled plans on
January 31, noting that it was not feasible to adequately address
the community's traffic concerns while maintaining the profitability
of the proposed store. In order to meet the community's traffic
mitigation demands, IKEA would have had to build new exit ramps
off Exit 17 of I-95. But in order to compensate for this expense,
IKEA would have had to increase the size of its store to generate
additional revenue. Thus, according to the mayor, IKEA and the City
"jointly and amicably" concluded that the project was
not in their mutual best interests.
IKEA continues to purchase
properties in the redevelopment area, presumably in order to assemble
a large piece of land which it will sell to a developer.
here to view a map of properties owned by IKEA.
Some lessons learned...
* community is active,
organized, and well-informed
* use of eminent domain is likely to be protested
* traffic is a major concern in the area
* city needs to generate revenue-city is more interested in generating
sales and property tax revenue than creating/preserving jobs (per
* impact on neighboring municipalities should be taken into account
in future plans