New Rochelle Activism Defeats Plans to Condemn Neighborhood for IKEA
In 2001, local residents achieved success in their effort to prevent IKEA from opening a huge superstore in their suburban community. The Swedish furniture company approached New Rochelle officials with the idea of leveling the City Park neighborhood in favor of a 309,000-square foot store. City Park contains a mix of older homes, small businesses and small industrial properties. In all, the IKEA proposal would have removed 34 homes, 29 businesses and 2 churches; it would have also displaced 160 residents and about 400 workers.1 The City declared the neighborhood blighted, a first step toward eventual seizure of the neighborhood through eminent domain.2 Outraged residents rallied to stop the plan from going forward, and at the public hearing devoted to the subject, 222 people spoke against the IKEA store, while only four spoke in favor.3 The close-knit neighbors organized, holding demonstrations, picketing the Swedish Consulate and soliciting support from adjacent towns.4 In the face of such vociferous community opposition, IKEA dropped its plans and announced it would no longer seek to locate in the fully occupied neighborhood, claiming it was due to excessive costs. Over time, City officials grudgingly admitted that their community was overwhelmingly opposed to the project.5 The City Council eventually voted the IKEA plan down.6 Finally, in late 2002, the City Council withdrew the blight designation,7 so residents and business owners can sleep at last.
1 Debra West, “IKEA Wants to Move In, But Neighbors Fight Moving Out,” The New York Times, Mar. 7, 2000, at B1.
2 Ken Valenti, “Council Calls IKEA’s Proposed Site Blighted,” The Journal News (Westchester County, NY), July 21, 1999, at 1B.
3 Debra West, “A Revolt Over Bookshelves and Bedroom Sets; In New Rochelle, IKEA Finds Itself in a Fight with Sophisticated and Highly Organized Opponents,” The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2001, at 14WC1.
4 Lynn Cascio, “Protestors March to Embarrass IKEA,” The Journal News (Westchester County, NY), May 25, 2000, at 5B.
5 Debra West, “A Revolt Over Bookshelves and Bedroom Sets; In New Rochelle, IKEA Finds Itself in a Fight with Sophisticated and Highly Organized Opponents,” The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2001, at 14WC1.
6 Elizabeth Ganga & Ken Valenti, “IKEA Drops Plan for Store,” The Journal News (Westchester County, N.Y.), Feb. 1, 2001, at 1A.
7 New Rochelle, N.Y. Resolution Rescinding Resolution No. 178 of 1999 Entitled “Resolution Finding the Fifth Avenue Industrial Area Appropriate for Urban Renewal and Designating Said Area as the Fifth Avenue Urban Renewal Area (Dec. 10, 2002).