Ikea will open its Red Hook store on June 18, the home-furnishing powerhouse announced on Wednesday, giving eager shoppers a date to circle on their calendars, but starting a doomsday countdown for foes who say the store will ruin the neighborhood.
The Swedish conglomerate had earlier promised that the store would open “this summer,” but the new date beats the solstice by two days.
Signs of the store’s impending opening are all around. The official company logo was recently stenciled onto the huge Beard Street building, and the B61 bus, which runs up and down Van Brunt Street, was extended a few blocks so that its final stop is at Ikea’s front door.
“Everything’s going on schedule. We moved into the store this week,” said company spokesman Joseph Roth.
For Ikea-philes, that’s good news.
“I’m excited that it’s opening up in Brooklyn because I know a lot of people who like to shop there and, hopefully, it creates jobs for local people,” said Stacey Stecko, who moved to Manhattan, but said she’d shop at the new store.
Ikea mustered public support for the mega-store by holding out the prospect of jobs for Red Hook residents, where unemployment is about 20 percent. The store has hired hundreds of workers — though the company will not say how many are from Red Hook.
Opponents say the neighborhood simply can’t handle the hordes who will drive to the store.
“The problems will far outweigh the benefit,” said John McGettrick, head of the Red Hook Civic Association, who expects increased pollution and traffic headaches.
Ikea has tried to allay these concerns by providing free weekend water taxi service from Manhattan, as well as shuttle bus service to connect with subway stations.
And there are also those Swedish meatballs — 10 for $4.49 (including lingonberry jam and potatoes).
©2008 Community News Group
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