Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)By Michael Calhoun

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Just in case you thought it was a mirage — a ceremonial groundbreaking for St. Louis’ long-awaited IKEA store is at-hand.

Construction, though, has technically been well underway for several weeks already, with noisy heavy equipment tearing down old buildings on the site and relocating utility lines. Workers with hard hats are all over the place.

Inside a white tent erected for the ceremony, KMOX’s Michael Calhoun found people putting together several of the furniture retailer’s signature products, and also spotted a box of IKEA-branded hard hats and bucket of blue and yellow shovels.

“Blue and yellow are the colors of Sweden,” IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth explained, “so we definitely like to reflect that and love what we do from our uniforms to even the shovels we’ll be using tomorrow for the official shovel ceremony.”

Taking a glance around the skyline, cranes are visible in several directions, with a residential high-rises (including a Whole Foods Market) going up in the Central West End, BJC renovating and remaking its campus and new student housing rising across the street in Midtown. Roth says IKEA is “thrilled” to be a part of the rapidly expanding Cortex Innovation Community.

The two-story, 380,000 sq. ft. building will sit at the corner of Forest Park and Vanvedenter Aves. It’s expected to open in the fall of 2015.

IKEA, of course, has been rabidly anticipated for years. The company confirms that it literally took a decade to locate and nail down its ideal site in the area. Roth notes that the furniture retailer has 101,000 local customers that have either shopped IKEA online or at stores in other cities.

But today, the Mayor and others will stick their Swedish-flag inspired shovels in the ground and toss some dirt to make it real.

“We think it’s worth the wait,” Roth says.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.) 



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