By Juliette Goodrich

DUBLIN (KPIX 5) — An East Bay community is divided over plans for an IKEA furniture store, with some fearing the mega-store will unleash chaos and gridlock in an already busy corridor.

The plan is to build an IKEA store in Dublin just off Interstate 580 along Hacienda Drive. IKEA owns the empty 27-acre lot, prime real estate in the heart of Dublin where the Swedish furniture giant wants to build a 430,000 square foot store, which would be bigger than the ones in Emeryville and Palo Alto.

The lot is situated on a portion of I-580 that sees frequent traffic jams.

“I love IKEA, but it is like Costco and Target on crack,” said Fremont resident Erica Almquist. “You are just gonna wander, you will get lost and you will buy candles.”

It’s now nearing decision time, with the city’s planning commission set to vote Tuesday night. “My gut feeling is that the planning commission will not approve it tonight,” said Jean Josey, a candidate for Dublin City Council.

Josey would not say how she would vote, but noted, “I see some big concerns with the project. Traffic and parking, I have big concerns on those,” said Josey. “I also see this is the type of lifestyle retail we have been asking for in Dublin ”

IKEA says it would create hundreds of jobs and bring in millions of tax dollars to the Dublin and Alameda County. The company also says it would build an underground parking lot and eliminate a hotel for more open space.

But some say what open space? “Looking around you, on all the hills there are brand-new homes and apartments going in,” said Dublin resident Colette Schultz. “It’s just too much.”

There is a lot of vocal opposition, even an online petition against IKEA which has about 3,000 signatures so far.

But for others, IKEA can’t come soon enough. “I love their product. I honestly do,” said Fremont resident Peggy Francis. “So I just make it my business, okay, well this is just going to be an IKEA day. And that’s what I do.”

At Tuesday night’s Dublin Planning Commission meeting, those opposed to the IKEA carried signs and wore t-shirts that made their feelings clear.

Some residents fear the gridlock in the area will only get worse if the city council approves the project.

“I work in Redwood City and I commute to Redwood City pretty much on a daily basis. So my round trip commute is already three hours,” said Dublin resident Vaidyanadhan Krishnamurthy.

When asked what she would say to people who feel that the store is too much development that would create more traffic that Dublin can’t handle, IKEA US Public Affairs Manager Latisha Bracy defended the idea.

“We’ve spent several years really learning the community and making sure that we felt as though we could really be a good fit for this community,” said Bracy.

After receiving an “F” in the environmental impact report, IKEA says it has agreed to work with the city to make changes to mitigate traffic.

“Another good thing for residents to know is that we don’t open until 10 a.m. So we won’t have anything to do with increasing the rush-hour traffic and our afternoon peak also won’t coincide with rush hour traffic,” said Bracy.

Bruce Fiedler has lived in Dublin for more than 30 years. He serves on one of the volunteer commissions for the city and spoke in favor of the IKEA.

“It helps our jobs and housing balance. It gives revenue to the city to maintain our parks and other city services and I think it adds a little bit of class to the city,” said Fiedler. “Dublin was the poor cousin of Pleasanton for a long time. I think we’re catching up.”

The Dublin City Council is set to vote on the project next month. IKEA officials said it could take up to a year to break ground and two years to finish construction the new mega-store.

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