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It's official: Olive Garden is coming to town

BAXTER — The City of Baxter must have made Santa’s “nice” list this holiday season.

After a long economic drought, the city is positioning itself for a commercial building boom in 2012 if plans continue. This includes the addition of Costco, Olive Garden, a strip mall and several new building applications to be heard for the first time before the Baxter Planning and Zoning Commission in early January. Plans for renovating Westgate Mall are also in the works.

“It’s ending up to be a very good year,” said Baxter Public Works Director Trevor Walter.

After nearly five months of meetings with city staff to work out the details, Costco received a series of conditional use permits and other approvals at Tuesday’s Baxter City Council meeting. The next step will be approval of a developer’s agreement and a building permit and Costco will then close on the property, which should come before the city council in late February or early March, said Walter. Walter said the plan is that Costco will open in October or November of 2012.

Walter said the city planning and zoning commission also has four new applications it will hear at its next meeting on Jan. 10. The applications should come before the city council at its Jan. 17 regular meeting.

An application has been made to build an Olive Garden in front of JC Penney’s. The application includes a separate strip mall at the same location, including a drive-through service window. Another application is for the former Paul Bunyan Bowl owned by Mills Properties, which is proposed to open as a gun and archery range, said Walter.

Brock White Co., a construction materials supplier located south of Bob’s Building Supply on Highway 210 in Baxter, is proposing to move to the Potlatch Industrial Park.

Minnesota Community Net, a state-operated service of adult group homes and day treatment programs for people with developmental disabilities, is proposing to expand in the Baxter Industrial Park.

Walter said the city also got two new house permits this week.