Architectural rendering of proposed IKEA Live Oak.
Architectural rendering of proposed IKEA Live Oak. Credit: Courtesy / IKEA

It can take more than 90 minutes to drive from San Antonio to the nearest Ikea in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. Ikea officials announced plans Tuesday morning to open the Swedish furniture giant’s fifth Texas location in Live Oak, pending approval. Slated to open in the summer of 2019, the store would be a 20-minute drive northeast from downtown San Antonio.

“I am so excited to not have to go to Houston or Austin to shop at Ikea,” Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) stated in a County news release. “Ikea may not be aware that people will come from all over South Texas to shop at this store and we know shoppers from Mexico will also make the pilgrimage.”

The store would sit on 31 acres, include 1,000 parking spots, and employ about 250 people, according to Ikea officials. The plan is dependent on Ikea’s purchase of the acreage and approval of building and development permits from Live Oak and Bexar County.

“We’re under contract to purchase the 31 acres of land,” said Joseph Roth, expansion public affair manager for Ikea U.S., which probably won’t close “until after governmental approval” of zoning, site plan, design, and street access.

“We currently have solar at 90% of our U.S. locations,” Roth said. “We’ll evaluate this location for on-site renewable energy as well.”

In 2017, Ikea will open a store east of Dallas in Grand Prairie, Texas. As of August 2015, it had a total of 328 stores in 28 countries, 42 of which are in the U.S.

Aerial map of proposed IKEA store in Live Oak.
Aerial map of proposed IKEA store in Live Oak. Credit: Courtesy / IKEA

The southwestern corner of I-35 and Loop 1604 is an attractive spot because of its visibility and accessibility to highways, Roth said.

The County is developing its first public-private partnership at 1604 and Rocket Lane near the new Ikea and Randolph Air Force Base. The 51.5-acre multi-use satellite campus will include an $8 million dollar Northeast side Sheriff substation, which the County acquired in May. Talks are underway for funding a clinic, a Bexar Bibliotech digital library, and other community services on the campus.

The fast-growing I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin is lacking in retail, Calvert stated.

“We can all see the corridor between Austin and San Antonio becoming a fully developed corridor, and there is no doubt this will be a major draw along I-35,” he stated. “We’re exploring all potential support to the City of Live Oak to ensure that Ikea knows Bexar County welcomes them with open arms.”

To offset infrastructure and “extraordinary” construction costs, Ikea will apply for an economic incentive package from the City of Live Oak, Roth said. Details are pending negotiations with the City, but the total amount will be based on expected tax revenue from the store.

In 2015, sales at IKEA’s 42 locations in the U.S. totaled about $5 billion, an average of more than $110 million per store.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org