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Proposed giant blue store in Salem yet to be ID'd (but it sure looks like an IKEA)

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 25. 2018 12:24PM
The illustration at top was included in a request for approval from the Salem Planning Board to allow a 108-foot-tall sign for this proposed anchor store at the Tuscan Village development. While the proposal doesn't identify the occupants of the building, the design, coloring and signage are all consistent with Ikea, the Scandinavian home furnishings giant whose closest store is in Stoughton, Mass. The lower illustration shows Ikea's planned store near San Antonio, Texas. (TOP: MHF DESIGN CONSULTANTS; ABOVE: IKEA/BUSINESSWIRE)

What wears a blue exterior, measures 350,000 square feet and is named in giant yellow letters?

“It kind of looks like an IKEA,” Massachusetts traveler Robin Britner said when shown the plans a developer filed for a proposed store in Salem.

The proposed store’s massive girth falls in line with other IKEA locations: A Virginia store opening in 2019 will measure 331,000 square feet.

The town’s planning director wouldn’t cough up the proposed tenant, deferring to those developing the Tuscan Village project near the Mall at Rockingham Park.

“Anything can change until they sign on the dotted line,” Ross Moldoff said.

A manager at Bob’s Discount Furniture in Salem has heard talk of the Scandinavian home furnishings giant coming to town.

“We’re not worried about IKEA or anybody else,” said the manager, who gave only his first name, Kalid. “They can come into town and bring us more traffic.”

For the record, IKEA “is not a confirmed tenant of the project,” said Mark Hebert, vice president of development at Grossman Development Co., which is jointly developing the project.

The president of the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce used identical phrasing: To my knowledge, that hasn’t been confirmed as a confirmed tenant,” said Donna Morris.

The $500 million Tuscan Village development, she said, is “going to change Salem’s landscape.”

And perhaps change the look of some living rooms as well.

People taking a break at the northbound Hooksett rest area along Interstate 93 Wednesday were asked to eyeball the store’s proposed look filed with Salem last month.

“It’s pretty similar to that” IKEA store in Stoughton, Mass., said Bow resident Steve Roy, who grew up in Salem.

“IKEA!” said Littleton resident Meggen Wright.

Its appearance is “very close” to stores she’s visited in Massachusetts and North Carolina, Wright said.

Sen. Chuck Morse, who lives in Salem, said: “I’d be very supportive of IKEA coming to Salem.”

The company’s closest store to New Hampshire is in Stoughton, Mass., almost 60 miles south of Salem.

An IKEA spokesman said “at this time, there are no plans for a Salem store.”

The proposed store would be located at the intersection of Rockingham Park Boulevard and Mall Road, across from the existing mall, Moldoff said.

He expects plans to be filed by February or March for the retail store, and perhaps the planning board reviewing the store’s site plan.

Hebert declined to give a timetable.

Moldoff said the owner of the store plans to buy the property where it is located.

A proposal to build a sign 108 feet tall with a total of 1,800 square feet for the proposed store has been withdrawn, he said.

“It was a huge sign,” Moldoff said.

By comparison, a sign for the new Market Basket on South Broadway in Salem measures 350 square feet, he said.

Moldoff said plans must be filed at least 15 days prior to getting on the next planning board agenda.

A Ford dealership, Market Basket, medical office building, electric substation and about 650 residential units are part of the Tuscan Village development.

The Tuscan Village project is expected to generate millions a year in property taxes for the town and schools.

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