Ikea starts construction on gargantuan Las Vegas store

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is pleased with the growth and job opportunities during a program as IKEA holds a groundbreaking ceremony for its first store in Southern Nevada on Thursday, April, 9, 2015.

Ikea, the popular Swedish furniture dealer and meatball slinger, broke ground today on a 351,000-square-foot superstore in Las Vegas.

Company officials and construction management crews, joined by politicians, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, celebrated the start of heavy work for the store at the southwest corner of Sunset Road and Durango Drive in the southwest valley.

Workers have already been clearing and grading the site.

Ikea Groundbreaking in Southern Nevada

Gov. Brian Sandoval greets IKEA's Joseph Roth as IKEA holds a groundbreaking ceremony for its first store in Southern Nevada on Thursday, April, 9, 2015. Roth is the Expansion Public Affairs Manager and will lead the program. Launch slideshow »

The store, poised to have 300 employees, is expected to open in summer 2016. It will be Ikea's first location in Nevada and 42nd nationally.

It’s one of several construction projects underway or on the drawing board in southwest Las Vegas, a once fast-growing area where, like the rest of the valley, development ground to a halt during the recession.

Ikea's store is easily the highest-profile of the bunch, which largely consists of apartment complexes but also includes warehouses and residential subdivisions.

Sandoval said construction was one of the hardest-hit industries during the recession, and putting crews “back to work with quality jobs is a great accomplishment.” Ikea, he added, is “a perfect fit into this community and in this state.”

Company executives had been considering the Las Vegas market for almost 10 years but were waiting for population to pass 2 million, spokesman Joseph Roth has said.

Ikea bought the 26-acre site in December for $21.3 million from M.J. Dean Construction founder Michael Dean, who acquired the land through foreclosure in 2010, property records show.

Ikea's purchase price — $819,328 per acre — far outweighed the market average. In Southern Nevada last year, land sold for an average $276,422 per acre, according to Colliers International.

Customer turnout is expected to be big at the new store, and probably few people in the valley are more excited than Las Vegas’ chapter of the Swedish Women’s Educational Association, or SWEA, a cultural group that meets monthly.

About 20 to 25 members attended today’s groundbreaking ceremony, including Lena Walther, Sweden’s honorary consul to Nevada.

She said the retailer — known for low-priced, self-assembly furniture — is one of the best-known Swedish companies in the world, along with discount trendy-clothing chain H&M.

Ingvar Kamprad founded IKEA in Sweden in 1943, and Walther said her grandfather was close friends with Kamprad’s father.

“I grew up with it,” she said of Ikea.

With 366 stores in 47 countries, Ikea also is well known for its food, especially its meatballs.

The company sold 1 billion of them last year, helping its food division generate nearly $1.5 billion in sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Las Vegas store is expected to have a 450-seat restaurant serving, among other things, meatballs with lingonberries.

“We can come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” SWEA member Christina Green of Las Vegas said. “That’s what we will do.”