Zip lines, a 45-foot fountain and the world’s largest indoor adventure rope course will all come to New Haven in time for Christmas, bundled inside a 200,000-square-foot furniture store.
Jordan’s Furniture — a family-run business that offers shoppers entertainment options including theaters in six locations across New England — opens on 40 Sargent Dr., the former New Haven Register building, on Dec. 11, President and CEO Eliot Tatelman announced Wednesday during a media tour of the space.
Roughly 140,000 square feet of the building will house the store’s furniture sales, with another 36,000 square feet at the front of building leased to a private vendor, Tatelman said. The amusement park, dubbed “It,” will fill the remaining 30,000 square feet of the building.
Tatelman said the store aims to attract shoppers from across the state and host corporate team-building retreats.
“It will be a happening — you’re going to want to come here with your friends and your family, and every kid is going to want to have a birthday party here,” he said.
Though most furniture stores only aim to attract customers who want furniture, Jordan’s places amusements inside its stores to attract as broad a customer base as possible, said Heather Copelas, Jordan’s public relations manager.
Jordan’s elected to install four zip lines and a rope course in the New Haven store because the size of the former Register building was particularly conducive to these attractions, Copelas said. Tatelman added that the franchise also opted to build an amusement park because they had never done it before.
New Haven was also a good location for Jordan’s next store because the city sits at the interchange between two major highways, I-95 and I-91, Tatelman added, noting that this will enable the store to attract a geographically diverse clientele.
Building the store has not been cheap. The fountain alone — which shoots water 45 feet into the air with a multicolored lightshow choreographed to 150 songs — contains 1,000 nozzles and cost $2 million to build, Tatelman said. He declined to specify the total cost of the store.
Though Jordan’s is owned by American conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Tatelman said his family runs the day-to-day affairs of the company. He added that Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, will make an appearance at the private opening ceremony on Dec. 10.
Speaking to the assembled media and officials, Mayor Toni Harp praised the project, saying it confirms New Haven’s status as a “focal point of local economic resurgence.”
“I welcome today’s news that Jordan’s Furniture will distinguish itself on this site,” Harp said. “We have high hopes that today’s announcement will lead to destination shopping on a greater level than before.”
Harp commended Jordan’s for its community outreach efforts in the city, noting that earlier this month, the company distributed 108 mattresses free of charge to the New Haven Fire Department. She said efforts like these can serve as a model for other businesses to emulate.
Copelas said the company has also participated in community engagement at its other locations. Jordan’s has distributed winter coats to families in need, provided prom dresses for low-income teenagers and, in partnership with adoption organizations in Massachusetts, placed roughly 300 children into foster care, Copelas said.
Jordan’s will also bring 270 new jobs to New Haven once it is fully operational, Tatelman said. In preparation, city officials ran a two-month job training program in the summer to prepare 30 New Haven residents to compete for these jobs, Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, said.
Five graduates of this program have already been hired by Jordan’s, Nemerson said, adding that six are still being considered by Jordan’s and nine have been hired by other firms. Nemerson said Jordan’s hired around 60 from over 1,500 applicants during its first wave of hiring.
Roughly 500 construction workers are also operating on the site, Copelas said. Connecticut firm KBE Building Corporation, based in Farmington, is overseeing the store’s construction, Tatelman said, noting that Jordan’s specifically sought a Connecticut firm.
Though the amusement park will be inside the furniture store, it will have an admissions fee, Tatelman said.
The store’s opening has not come without opposition. Residents of City Point -— a neighborhood near the store — expressed concern that the store, if it becomes the shopping destination city officials seek, might cause traffic problems in the area.
City spokesman Laurence Grotheer said the city administration does not expect the new store to permanently increase traffic in the City Point area. But he said traffic could increase during the first months of the store’s operation.
“There’s some concern that, while this remains a novelty for its first few weeks and months, there may be some congestion,” he said. “But the city is confident that the infrastructure can accommodate anticipated traffic.”
Grotheer added that the proximity of Exit 46 on I-95 eases access from the highway to the store. Residents of City Point can access the highway via Exit 44, he said.
Tatelman said the city has been a cooperative partner throughout the building process. He specifically praised the city’s building inspectors for their work.
Jordan’s also has locations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.