Last year, we wrote about Strand East, a planned neighborhood outside London that will be built by furniture giant Ikea (to be more specific, it will be built by LandProp, the development arm of the group that owns Ikea’s intellectual property).
At the time, we were given a handful of details on the project: the 2,000,000-square-foot development will contain 480,000 square feet of commercial office space, 1,200 homes, a shared community "hub," a restaurant, a zone for creative businesses, a hotel, bike routes, pedestrian walkways, and a shiny new bus route. It will be a mostly vehicle-free zone; drivers will park in an underground garage at the development’s entrance, while emergency vehicles, buses, and delivery trucks will be allowed through.
Now the Globe and Mail has visited the site of the future development and emerged with new information. Here’s what the paper found out:
- The Strand East development will feature condo towers (up to 11 stories tall), apartments, townhouses, and two- and three-story homes. 40% of the homes will be big enough for families.
- There will be abundant pedestrian walkways and public areas.
- The piece of land that Strand East will inhabit is pretty dismal in its current state. Globe and Mail calls it an "expanse of ancient rusting machinery, waste piles, and grinding construction equipment." Ikea to the rescue!
- There won’t be an Ikea store in the development. Or unlimited meatballs.
- Ikea will own all the houses--the neighborhood will be all rentals.
- The company will manage things like trash collection and crime prevention. It will also promote community events and shops, including farmers markets and antique stores. Ikea will have full control over all the commercial facilities, so it can decide what the community needs.
- Ikea will be akin to the town’s municipal government.
The question remains: Will people feel comfortable living in an Ikea-owned community? Chances are, the company will take good care of the place. The apartments and houses will probably be reasonably priced, judging by Ikea’s rhetoric about "doing something for the people" in the town. And everything will be constructed with a "Swedish philosophy mentality"--meaning buildings will feature high energy efficiency and extensive insulation to withstand the elements. Sure, there won’t be much spontaneity in future development, but how much does that matter?
A lot, possibly, but Ikea will soon find out. Construction is expected to begin next year.