Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

IKEA once more slated to mar the landscape

12. March 2005 • Murph
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Three weeks after recent news that IKEA was cancelling plans to build a store in Canton Township, due to a property dispute, the company has announced that they have settled that dispute by buying the adjacent property, and are once more on the way to building a store. The Freep provides background on the deal,

Ikea, known for its bold blue and yellow exteriors and the Swedish meatballs it serves in its store cafes as well as stylish and affordable furniture, had spent the past several years considering sites in metro Detroit for one of its super-sized retail outlets. It initially picked Troy but pulled out when officials there nixed Ikea’s trademark exterior colors. After a long search it chose the corner of Ford and Haggerty roads in Canton.

Three weeks ago, after a couple of years of working with township officials to plan the project, Ikea announced the deal was off over a property dispute. The feud involved a seemingly minor squabble over shared parking rights and related matters with a partnership that owned a neighboring 5-acre parcel.

The new IKEA is expected to open in summer of 2006, and will have 300,000 square feet of floor space – 1/3 more than Cabelas. Urban planning students who write for ArborUpdate and have seen the effect of IKEAs in other areas on the surrounding landscape are described as “Not pleased.”

  1. I’ve never seen an Ikea before, but holy crap that’s enormous. I figured they were sorta like Wal-Marts, not Cabela’s. How many different kinds of cheap moderny furniture can there possibly be demand for? I guess furniture does take up more space than some goods, but still.

    Canton cracks me up… they spearhead one of the only real New Urbanist Traditional Neighborhood Developments in Michigan, and at the same time encourage a development like this that is, well, more sprawling than sprawl.
       —Brandon    Mar. 12 '05 - 04:12PM    #
  2. Ikea rules. Cheap stuff that is at least half the time not crap; and often well designed.
       —Scott    Mar. 12 '05 - 11:21PM    #
  3. Keep in mind that the Ford Road corridor in Canton is a classic commercial strip in all its sprawl glory. IKEA isn’t going to make or break that fact – it’s just more of the same for that area.

    As for the TND at Cherry Hill – yes, it’s a nice development and a rarity in these parts. But the Township dropped the ball by not including a farmland preservation component to that area. Now you’re getting a TND surrounded by your typical sprawl subdivision. At least Superior Township on the other side of the County line is putting up a good fight to preserve some farmland.
       —Joe    Mar. 13 '05 - 04:39AM    #
  4. Yeah, my cousin bought a house right there near Cherry Hill, and I go out that way every once in awhile. I’ve been watching it take shape. It’s an odd thing. It’s like they’re building a traditional urban intersection in the middle of 2000+ sq.ft. on 1/2-1 acre subdivisions. It’s truly strange.
       —Scott    Mar. 13 '05 - 02:42PM    #
  5. Yeah, I’m pretty unimpressed by Cherry Hill Village – the fact that it is in Canton, rather than in a real Place, means that it’s not particularly a beneficial thing. Just a curiousity.

    While Ford & 275 definitely has nothing going for it right now, I disagree that IKEA will be “more of the same”. IKEA is pretty qualitatively different from almost any standard big box. The spacing between IKEAs means that they draw from a much larger area, inducing traffic to a much larger degree than, say, a WalMart. I think the article said IKEA expects 6 million customers a year – almost 2000 / day, assuming they’re spread equally across the year, but really translating to much more weekend traffic. Consider that the deal includes IKEA putting in a new interchange on 275. That’s how much more traffic it’s going to create.

    And, Scott, I’m going to have to disagree both on “well-designed” and “half the time not crap”. I’ve never found IKEA furniture to be any more impressive than, say, Target’s, and have pulled stuff ten times as nice as the best IKEA piece I’ve ever seen from dumpsters. For the price, I think you could do better than IKEA on any item with a trip to the A2 ReUse Center, a book on refinishing from the public library, and a quick trip to the hardware store.
       —Murph    Mar. 13 '05 - 04:14PM    #
  6. I was just touring Cherry Hill the other day, and I’m not gonna complain much. The area would have been conventional sprawl, so the TND is ten times better than what would have surely otherwise been there in terms of density and design. My take on TNDs is that if you’re gonna build on suburban greenfield sites, they at least are much, much more passable than the usual… putting some actual thought and effort into the “feel” of a place, community, the pedestrian, etc? Don’t mind if I do. Yeah, it’s a commuter suburb, but if we’re gonna build those anyway, this is the way to do it. They’re no replacement for urban infill and open-space preservation on the fringe, but it’s a giant leap in a better direction.
       —Brandon    Mar. 13 '05 - 05:54PM    #
  7. Murph,

    Target’s furniture-type-stuff is about 90% crap and they don’t have much of it. Ikea’s is about half crap, but the other half is worth looking at and worth the money, IMO… I don’t like the scale and business model of it, but the stuff could definitely be worse…
       —Scott    Mar. 13 '05 - 09:52PM    #
  8. Having grown up in Canton, and spent much time driving Ford Road, I can’t understand how the road reconstruction is going to be changed in any quality way. It is a horrible road to drive.
       —Mark    Mar. 14 '05 - 12:28AM    #
  9. I used to live 20 miles from an IKea and bought a ton of furniture there. It was terrific. I still have some. It’s affordable, it looks pretty good. I think that’s great.
       —JennyD    Mar. 14 '05 - 02:15AM    #
  10. Ikea’s instruction manuals are sexist, complains Norwegian Prime Minister
       —Mark    Mar. 14 '05 - 03:44AM    #
  11. I completely agree with Scott on this one; while some of Ikea’s products are crap, more often than not they are pretty decently built, well-designed, and cheap. IMO if you’re a student or newly married and prefer modern design, there’s none better.

    Target’s ‘furniture’ is complete crap if you can find it at all, and same goes for most of the other affordable places. Some of us don’t like the overly conservative beige sofa and fake cherry veneer bookcases so easily found at Meijer’s and the like.

    Personally I’m ecstatic that an Ikea will be opening up in Michigan; saves me a drive to Chicago or Toronto.
       —KGS    Mar. 14 '05 - 08:41PM    #
  12. I love and hate Ikea. It brings out my “consumer” side in a seriously frightening way. I once borrowed a pickup truck for a trip to Chicago for the sole purpose of shopping at Ikea, and brought it back full. But yeah… I feel the same way about my Tivo (cursed television!!).
       —Scott    Mar. 14 '05 - 09:21PM    #
  13. IKEA is a great store. It’s turned me into an unpaid salesman for them. Most of the stlyish (clean lines) furniture is boxed flat so it’s easy to pack. You assemble a lot of the furniture but it isn’t the crap you’ll find from Sauder (REAL wood laminate!). You can furnish your entire house (dishes, cabinets, framed pictures, drapes, etc.) plus get an excellent meal. Almost all of the stores in the area sell oversized, over-priced, soft-as-cottonballs, garish love-seats and lay-z-boys. When this one opens, you guys are gonna LOVE it!
       —Mark    Apr. 6 '05 - 12:20PM    #
  14. P.S. IKEAs are not one floor, but two or three. I think the one in Chicago is at least four, with a circular design. Also the warehouse is enclosed within the store because after choosing the items you want, you pick them up in the warehouse on your way to the checkout. So when you hear 300K sq. ft., it most likely won’t be a sprawling as you think.
       —Mark    Apr. 6 '05 - 12:24PM    #
  15. Mark,

    I used to live in central New Jersey, and have been to the IKEAs both in Philly and in Elizabeth, NJ. I therefore consider myself to be coming from an informed perspective in my displeasure, and I consider IKEA to be one of the most singularly sprawling entities I’ve ever encountered.

    We have a serviceable kitchen table that came from IKEA, but, for the most part, the dumpster across the street from our place in NJ provided much higher quality furniture than did IKEA, at lower cost and lower time investment.

    I recently visited a friend in Chicago and admired her new apartment. She noted that the sideboard in her kitchen was from IKEA, and said that it was functional, but not nearly nice enough to be worth hauling with her to wherever she moved next – unlike her kitchen table, which was real actual wood (“real wood laminate”? Please.), will probably last her the next thirty years, and only cost her slightly more at a resale shop.

    So, no, I guarantee you, I will not love it when this IKEA opens.
       —Murph    Apr. 6 '05 - 01:31PM    #
  16. I will note I have my fair share of dumpster-dived, hand-me down, and resale shop furniture … but when you need a cheap couch or some kitchen-organizing-accessories (I love my $3 Ikea cabinet door-mounted pot lid holder, for example), or bookshelf, and you don’t have time to comb the resale shops for your particular need of the month, Ikea does a hell of a lot better than Target or your box-store of choice. Now, if I had a wood & metal shop handy, and if I had gobs of free time, I could make beetter stuff cheaper. But I don’t. Ikea’s not furniture for the Ages, but for my money, it’s a decent compromise when the alternative is milk crates.
       —Scott    Apr. 6 '05 - 02:04PM    #
  17. Anyone else just not really care for “modern” furniture? [okay, this is an extension of my architectural biases] If there’s one thing that centuries of patriarchy and hegemony did right, it’s good design. Claw-foot chairs, here I come.
       —Brandon    Apr. 6 '05 - 06:03PM    #
  18. Delighted to see IKEA making inroads into the MidWest.
    Been to most (all?) IKEA stores in the US, and quite a few in Europe (even one in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong respectively).
    IKEA does make good stuff, it is reasonably priced – albeit more expensive here in the US than in Sweden (origin) – and styling is what it is; it is evolving all the time by modern designers who try to follow the tide (what you and I are looking for down the road).

    If you don’t like IKEA, shop elsewhere. For the rest of us, we can not wait for this needed addition that will allow us to add some light to the otherwise soooooo gloooomy and heavy dark cheery and oak furniture found in most “upper class” American homes (in-laws included).

    IKEA rules, and you guys will be amazed to see what more “neat things” apart from furniture you’ll be able to find. Looking for ANYTHING for the home, good chance IKEA will have it, and it’ll be fun and different at the same time.
       —Brandon    Apr. 12 '05 - 08:44AM    #
  19. Hear, hear, Brandon. I agree. I’ve been to quite a few stores in the US and abroad as well. Since they design their own furniture, it is unique. I can’t tell you how many times I see architects featured in magazines and they typically have a few pieces here and there of IKEA. For those not familiar with the products, they’re in all kinds of product placement commercials, TV shows (early “Real World”) and movies. The Burbank store is convenient for set designers.

    Just because the furniture is inexpensive, it is not the sole reason I am attracted to it. It’s uniquely designed. They also think of multiple uses for various pieces. Granted, this probably doesn’t enthuse the average shopper, but for some who place a priority on change and want to update rooms without spending a lot of money, IKEA is unparalleled.

    Even with longer lasting solid wood products, I’ve never liked the contrived looks at House of Denmark. Design Within Reach is an oxymoron! IKEA is like TJ Maxx: never the same place twice.

    It’s true most Midwesterners haven’t heard of IKEA since they are saturated on the right and left coasts, and of course, Europe. So either word of mouth, traveling or scouring home furnishings magazines was probably most Midwesterners introduction to IKEA.

    I’ve been singing IKEA’s praises for over 10 years and continually begged them to consider metro Detroit. I have introduced hundreds of friends and family members to their catalog and planned many trips to Burlington and Etobicoke, Ontario (the Chicago/Schaumburg store is my least favorite). It is, however, with ambivilence that I welcome our first IKEA store. My IKEA items just won’t seem as special, nor will a visit to the store. I am still happy that they’re coming. Who else makes graphic paper napkins like IKEA?!

    All joking aside, if you’d like to see my IKEA-furnished home, here’s the URL:

    It took me 4 years to get the bathroom sink. I had to have a relative ship it from Germany after holding out hope that it would eventually be available in the North American market. Now tell me who makes anything like these furnishings and at those price points?!
       —Karen    Jun. 14 '05 - 02:20PM    #