Mynet Jerusalem is reporting that IKEA has officially abandoned its plans to set up a branch in Malha Mall after signing a deal in the last weeks to open in Eshtaol instead. According to previous reports, IKEA had grown tired of the bureaucracy involved in building a Jerusalem branch and was looking to leave, however, no alternative location had been selected. The proposed branch would have been 27,000 square meters and employed 400 people.
IKEA, the Municipality and the JDA have been searching for a compromise that would place the Swedish furniture giant in the city within two years. Nir Barkat is reported to have met with their representatives at least once as part of the process. The massive size of the proposed store, which also was at the heart of its attractiveness to the city, held up a number of authorizations necessary to approve the site.
It is assumed that part of the reason that IKEA wanted to enter the Jerusalem market was to gain access to Jerusalem’s Arab population. Malha has increasingly attracted Arab clientele and it is possible that IKEA will once again look to open a store in Ramallah to achieve the same purpose.
IKEA has four locations around the country including Rishon LeZion, Netanya, Kiryat Atta and Be’er Sheva.
(Photo Credit: Moshe Milner, National Photo Collection)