IKEA needs your help to reclaim home in Almhult

After more than 200 years of Swedish ownership, Ikea’s hometown of Almhult is putting a lid on IKEA, giving the Swedish furniture retailer its first opportunity to reclaim property whose name has been held by Swedish authorities for decades.

When IKEA was first founded in Almhult in 1943, neighborhood leaders reasoned that since it was all the furniture manufacturer wanted to do, they should eventually be able to use it to spur development.

They never expected that it would be the legal reason the city would allow that development.

“This is not something that happened overnight,” public works director Frank Jacobsson said. “It has been in the works for six or seven years.”

Almhult Public Works, Architecture and Construction Department sought to make a show of force earlier this year when it ordered IKEA to refrain from erecting a sign for the store. The city has spent the past six months collecting up to 48,000 signatures on a petition in an effort to ward off IKEA’s application to reclaim the name, claiming it has been wrongly held since 1917.

“They are an international company. It is not natural for them to be located in Almhult,” said Jacobsson. “The company is very proud of what we have done for their company.”

The sign that was ordered by the city is meant to be a deterrent, although the company wants the warehouse that will house its new store in the city to be open in time for Christmas. The company will attempt to negotiate a compromise with the city.

IKEA is the first of several large-scale jobs and infrastructure projects expected to generate at least $200 million in new taxes for the city this year. It is expected to generate about 1,000 jobs, bringing an estimated 25,000 additional visitors to the city each year, according to Jacobsson. The city says it had to deny the application to avoid higher development costs.

“They are a great company,” he said. “Of course, IKEA has rights when they want to change their sign. [But] we have a reason.”

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