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IKEA to Set Up Distribution Center at Tejon Ranch Project

May 03, 2000|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Home furnishings retailer IKEA has agreed to build one of California's largest buildings, a nearly 2-million-square-foot distribution center at Tejon Ranch Co.'s new industrial park in southern Kern County.

The $50-million project, which was announced Tuesday by Tejon Ranch Co., is a coup for the company as it seeks to capitalize on its vast land holdings on the northern fringe of metropolitan Los Angeles. The firm is also crafting plans to build a 4,000-acre, master-planned community on the southern edge of its property in Los Angeles County.

"We believe their selection confirms our vision that Tejon Industrial Complex will become a major business and employment center for Kern County," said Tejon Ranch President Robert A. Stine.

IKEA will purchase an 80-acre site in Tejon Ranch's industrial park, located south of Interstate 5-U.S. 99 junction at the base of the Grapevine. Construction on the 1.8-million-square-foot facility, which must still be approved by IKEA's board of directors in Sweden, is expected to begin this fall.

The distribution center and industrial park are examples of the northward push of commercial and residential development from Los Angeles, where a scarcity of available land and a growing economy has sent property values soaring in recent years.

IKEA's project may lead others to open similar facilities in Kern County and northern Los Angeles County, say industrial real estate brokers. Tejon Ranch has marketed its industrial park as a less expensive alternative to the Inland Empire, where huge distribution and warehouse complexes dominate commercial development, and as a suitable spot to serve both Southern and Northern California.

"With the lack of available large parcels of dirt left in the [western] Inland Empire . . . you will see people looking at alternatives," said Scott Evans, an industrial broker at Cushman & Wakefield.

But Evans and other brokers say northern Los Angeles and southern Kern counties are far from undermining the Inland Empire's role as Southern California' distribution center. The expansion of Ontario International Airport and the Inland Empire's proximity to Orange and San Diego counties as well as Los Angeles will keep distribution companies seeking space in the area, according to brokers.

"The [activity] will still be focused on the Inland Empire," said broker Darla Longo of CB Richard Ellis.

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