Candace CarlisleStaff Writer-Dallas Business Journal–May 28, 2014
Nebraska Furniture Mart Inc. is rounding third base on its biggest project to date: A Texas-sized furniture showroom and distribution center.
“This is our largest scale store to date and we expect the store to deliver those sales,”Jeff Lind, chief strategy and development officer, told the Dallas Business Journal.
The nearly 1.9 million-square-foot facility at tMay he southeast corner of the Sam Rayburn Tollway and Plano Parkway in The Colony is in the midst of getting its distribution center railing installed to make room for the thousands of pieces of furniture, electronics, computers, flooring and other home-centric products.
And the electrical wiring is being distributed throughout the 560,000-square-foot showroom, which is expected to help generate more than $600 million in revenue each year after Nebraska Furniture Mart hits what it hopes will be a home run this upcoming spring.
Those preparations will turn the facility into an anchor for a much larger $1.5 billion, 433-acre mixed-use development, called Grandscape, which the 77-year-old Omaha, Nebraska-basedfurniture company has been marketing for the past year.
This marks the first time the furniture retailer, owned by Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire HathawayInc., has gotten into real estate and, so far, there’s been a big response from the North Texas business community and throughout the nation.
Lind has heard from hotel developers, apartment developers and family-branded restaurants, he said, but is waiting until the distribution center and showroom opens to make any big moves on the larger plans for Grandscape. Turner Construction is the project’s general contractor for the new facility.
Right now, Nebraska Furniture Mart is whittling down its wish list of limited-service hotels and restaurants for the project (although the retailer has already signed Subway for roughly 1,500 square feet of space within the two-story showroom for potential hungry customers).
Before Nebraska Furniture Mart can start signing tenants and developers, the company needs to finish installing infrastructure on the site, such as three bridges, roadways and a new intersection. Without the weight of debt — a worry seemingly constantly on the minds of most developers — the furniture retailer is taking its sweet time to develop a project it hopes will be relevant for the next half century.
“It takes a lot to support our customers, with 8 million to 10 million visitors each year,” Lind told me. “We are in no big rush.”
The numbers behind satisfying the anticipated demand for Nebraska Furniture Mart are impressive. The distribution center is being outfitted with 100 aisles equaling 6.5 miles, with more than 12 miles of steel guide railing within the aisles.
The 100-acre distribution center and showroom includes a parking garage with 4,900 parking spaces, where customers can walk right into the showroom to see more than 200 televisions, sit on more than 150 sofas and check out more than 100,000 square feet of tile options.
Along with home furnishings, Nebraska Furniture Mart also competes with the likes of Amazon.com and other Web retailers on electronics, digitally changing the price within the store for customers.
The company plans to employ about 2,000 people, with about 400 employees transferring from existing stores. Nebraska Furniture Mart has begun hiring workers with plans to ramp up the process, as the retailer gets closer to opening its showroom and distribution center.
The distribution center is expected to begin getting product by this fall, with the showroom opening to customers by spring 2015.
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