Coming Soon: IKEA Land

Inter IKEA Holding Services, the intellectual property owners of the home-goods retail monolith, recently announced plans to build an entire neighborhood in Stratford, East London, just south of the Olympic Park, where the 2012 Olympics will take place.

The new district, Strand East, will include 1,200 homes, of which about 40 percent will have three or more bedrooms. Strand East will also have a 350-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, 480,000 square feet of offices, shops, cafes, restaurants, a school, a nursery, and a health-care facility, allowing residents to accomplish daily errands and needs without having to drive.

The 26-acre neighborhood-in-progress is being designed to include car-free pedestrian zones, courtyards and landscaped grounds, while the planned underground parking means vehicles will be stowed tidily out of sight. The parcel is bordered on two of three sides by waterways, so the community might take on a Venice-like feel, with a water taxi service, a floating cocktail bar, and moorings that will be available for residents’ use.

Although some planning approvals are pending, construction is planned to begin in 2013 — after the Olympics — and is expected to take about five years. However, one section, Dane’s Yard (pictured) has been approved. It will feature a 40-meter-high (131-foot) illuminated sculpture in its public square, and a Grayson’s restaurant that will focus on ethically and locally sourced foods. It will also retain renovated versions of some of the historic buildings.  Is this the future of planned communities?  Seems a bit reminiscent of Disney’s housing plans, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing …

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