The IKEA-affiliated mall on Market Street between Fifth and Sixth streets that was previously being called "Livat" will be called Meeting Place, and we're now getting an update about what's going on inside.
While we still don't have an exact opening date for San Francisco's first IKEA store — the company continues to say it's debuting "soon" — we now have some details about what's going into the building and a vague timeline for when the whole complex will be up and running.
We learn today via the Chronicle that the Ingka Centres people — this is IKEA's sister company — are installing a co-working space called Hej! Workshop on the top floor of the mall, which will double as a showroom for the company's IKEA for Business line of furniture. The first Hej! Workshop (hej, pronounced "hay," means "hello" in Swedish) opened last in Stockholm across the street from the company's first city mall in Stockholm and first city-sized IKEA store there — which also only just opened last summer.
The SF Hej! Workshop will be operated by New York-based co-working chain Industrious, which already operates a space at 1700 Montgomery Street, and others in Walnut Creek and Concord.
Jamie Hodari, CEO and co-founder of Industrious, tells the Chronicle that the Ingka Centres team wants "to create a very happy place where people want to come in, and feel welcome and energized to be there." Hodari adds, "You go to an IKEA furniture store and there’s a play on words in the furniture descriptions; we want that sense of joy and irreverence to come through here."
It sounds like the IKEA store will hopefully be open by this fall, and the co-working space will follow in early 2024. The rest of the Meeting Place mall — the tenants of which we know very little about still — is set to open next spring. (We had thought, earlier this year, that the IKEA would be open by now, but no...)
Since we first learned of this project, we heard that Ingka Centres concept for its urban malls is not solely focused on retail. This Meeting Place promises to be "a unique concept that will be a mix of retail offer, office space, food & beverage, entertainment and digital experience." The only potential interested tenant we heard about last summer was golf pro Rory McIlroy's mini-golf chain The Puttery, which combines food and drink kind of like the Mission's Urban Putt.
A Swedish-themed food court is set to open on the second floor of the complex, with the IKEA store occupying the first and below-ground levels — at least that was what we last heard. And workers in the Hej! Workshop space will get free breakfasts and snacks, and other food served will come from the food court.
We can assume that the format of this urban-scaled IKEA store will be similar to the one the company opened in Stockholm in June 2022. That store has about 5,000 of the company's 9,000 products on display to see and touch, with 2,000 available for immediate purchase and pickup. The rest will be available for order and delivery
The opening of this mall, or Meeting Place, comes amid growing anxiety about retail vacancies in Union Square, and the existential threats to the mall formerly known as the Westfield SF Centre a block away. Westfield, the mall's EU-based operator, announced in June that it was walking away from its loan and giving the property to its lender. This news closely followed an announcement that Nordstrom was closing its massive, 34-year-old store there as well.
We'll update you as soon as we know when the IKEA store is finally going to open.