Swedish meatballs were on many people’s minds Thursday evening when more than 300 visitors gathered at Cary Towne Center to learn about IKEA’s plan to open its first Triangle store at the mall.
Shoppers were so excited about the possibility of Swedish furniture retailer IKEA opening as early as summer 2020 that they began arriving at 5:15 p.m. for an open house set to begin at 6, claiming the 100 free IKEA bags within the first 15 minutes.
“We’re thrilled with the reception tonight at the open house,” IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth said Thursday. “Lots of folks seem very familiar with IKEA and definitely very interested and supportive of IKEA coming to Cary. Many are asking when it’s going to open, they can’t wait to shop, and some are asking when do we start taking (job) applications.”
IKEA announced in May that it wanted to open its first Triangle store on 15 acres of the Cary Towne Center site off Interstate 40. It would be the second North Carolina store for IKEA, after one opened in Charlotte in 2009. The next closest IKEA is in Woodbridge, Va., south of Washington, D.C.
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Cary resident Erika Johnson said Thursday she was looking forward to not having to drive to Charlotte every few months to shop at the store. She lives a mile from the Cary site.
“Half my house is IKEA,” Johnson said. “An entire bedroom set, an entire shelving unit. ... We have rugs from IKEA. We have all our blinds from IKEA. Half our lighting is from IKEA. And my dream is to have an IKEA kitchen.”
The proposed store is part of a plan by CBL & Associates Properties, the mall’s owner, to redevelop the struggling shopping center.
CBL has submitted a rezoning request to the Town of Cary to kick off the initial step in a multi-phase redevelopment effort. It begins with the eastern part of the property, which includes the vacant Macy’s and Sears buildings, which would be demolished to make way for IKEA.
“I think this is going to be an awesome thing for Cary and especially this mall,” said resident Brenda Singh. “This mall has struggled over the past years and Cary is still growing, so if IKEA is coming here, that’s a very positive thing.”
The Cary Town Council will need to approve a rezoning and development plan for the 359,000-square-foot store and two-level parking deck. If approved, the store could open three years from now.
A public hearing at an upcoming Town Council meeting will be the next step in the process. It has yet to be scheduled, but Roth said he expected it to happen within the next couple months.
Thursday’s open house was scheduled after CaryForward, a group of residents who support redevelopment at the mall, invited IKEA representatives to speak to neighbors. The group also is circulating an online petition in support of the proposed store. The petition has garnered more than 700 signatures.
Many of the questions that came up Thursday were about where the store would be positioned on the mall’s property, if future redevelopment was anticipated at the mall and if there would be traffic impacts.
“I think IKEA is a great idea,” said Tim Devinney, a member of CaryForward. “I’ve heard absolutely nothing negative. Obviously, some people are concerned about traffic, but all we’ve heard tonight is great enthusiasm for the project, can’t wait for them to get here and everyone wants Swedish meatballs.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon