The buzz about Ikea opening a store in the Halifax area hit a fever pitch on Friday as the Swedish furniture giant announced a much-anticipated return to the Maritimes, after leaving the area nearly three decades ago.

"The rumours are true. We are going to open a full-size store," Ikea Canada president Stefan Sjostrand said at a news conference, ending days of speculation among locals about whether a new store would be a full-size operation or a showroom location.

Ikea Canada operated a store in Dartmouth from 1975 to 1988 and was widely mourned among loyal shoppers when it shut down. Rumours of the store's return have popped up periodically over the past three decades.

"I think this is very exciting for Halifax. I think it is a sign of confidence in the Halifax economy," said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

He said the chain has a big following in the Maritimes. 

"I think I still have furniture from when they were here last. We have a long Savage history with Ikea," he said adding his wife also gave him a big thumbs up when she heard the news.

The company has chosen Dartmouth Crossing for the location as it's close to highways, Sjostrand said.

Construction of the 328,000-square-foot store (30,500 square metres) will begin this summer and is expected to be completed in 14 to 16 months, he said.

The store will include a restaurant — there will be three kinds of meatballs offered — a market hall, showroom and a children's Smaland playroom. It will offer customers product pickup, home delivery, assembly, planning, returns and exchanges and online sales support.

Significant employer

The new Dartmouth Crossing location will directly employ 350 people and another 350 through spinoff jobs, Sjostrand said. As well, 100 to 150 people will be employed in building the store.

Ikea Dartmouth Crossing plot

Ikea said it chose Dartmouth Crossing for its newest location as it's close to highways. Construction of the 30,500-square-metre store will begin this summer and is expected to be completed in 14-16 months. (Google)

In November, Ikea Canada announced a coast-to-coast expansion plan to nearly double its national store count from 14 to 24 in the next 10 years.

"I have been in Canada in the last 18 months. We set up a goal to become more accessible to many Canadians," Sjostrand said.

"I am very pleased to say this is the first of our expansion journey. We want to show what we know and how to inspire the consumers living in this region."

The Halifax Regional Municipality said the company did not receive any financial incentives to open a store in the area.

Most sustainable store in Canada

Ikea Halifax will be built to operate as the most sustainable store in Canada, Sjostrand said. The focus will be on energy efficiency and waste avoidance.

"We are going to use solar for energy, geothermal energy to control heating in the building. As well, there will be 100 per cent LED lighting throughout the store," he said.

Ikea Canada is committed to supporting the communities where it operates, the company president said, and has already made donations to Halifax organizations including Marguerite Centre, Veith House and Alice Housing.

As well, the company has contributed $10,000 apiece to 18 Canadian communities welcoming Syrian refugees, and will now add Halifax to the list, Sjostrand said.