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Biz Buzz: Permit to prep former J.C. Penney building for new tenants

The permit filed with the city of Baxter calls for dividing the former big box retailer into two spaces for tenants.

Exterior of former J.C. Penney building in Baxter.
The name of the former J.C. Penney store is still visible on the building's front. Plans for the building include internal remodeling to create two tenant spaces in the former big box retailer at 7352 Glory Road S. in Baxter. <br/>
Renee Richardon / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — One of the most frequent questions before the city of Baxter may no longer be the query as to when a Red Lobster restaurant is coming, but it does hinge on the former J.C. Penney building.

When is something going into that building? What is going into that large space formerly dominated and built for a big box retailer?

Not all the answers are apparent — yet. But there is indication the building’s days as a vacant site are numbered.

A graphic shows a stack of paper with a tablet and a smartphone on top.
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

The owner Parlay Baxter LLC, Chillicothe, Missouri, is listed as the applicant on a commercial building permit application before the city of Baxter. The architect on the project is listed as RSP Architects out of Minneapolis.

Plans call for interior alterations that will create two tenant spaces in the building.

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“Phase 1 of the redevelopment of the vacant JC Penney building. We will do some interior demolition and demise the building into two separate tenant spaces with the construction of a demising wall, separating the electrical service, modifying existing plumbing services for future use and remove some existing interior HVAC equipment,” the applicant states of the heating, ventilation and air-condition, in the permit’s project description.

The permit was submitted to the city in May.

On March 17, 2017, I reported J.C. Penney was closing its Baxter store as part of a list of 138 stores closing with eight in Minnesota.

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Speculation at the time was the J.C. Penney store in St. Cloud was on the short list for closing. Expectations, even just a week before the announcement Baxter would close, was that the relatively newly built Baxter store would survive and perhaps even benefit from St. Cloud's loss. It wasn’t to be, coming as a surprise to a number of people.

J.C. Penney was a long-time tenant of the lakes area, moving from east Brainerd to a new facility along the coveted Highway 371 corridor in Baxter in 2008.

The area seemed to be a growing retail hub with new stores going in nearby of PetSmart, TJ Maxx and Ulta Beauty slated to open in the fall of 2017 and Dick’s Sporting Goods opening in the spring of 2018. The area, on the southern side of Highway 210 in Baxter, was already a growing spot for medical services as well. Plans called for the J.C. Penney store in Baxter to close in June — five years ago. The closings affected about 5,000 positions nationwide.

"The stores identified for closure either require significant capital to achieve the company's new brand standard or are minimally cash flow positive today relative to the company's overall consolidated average," J.C. Penney reported in 2017. "Comparable sales performance for the closing stores was significantly below the remaining store base and these stores operate at a much higher expense rate given the lack of productivity.”

So with new tenants going into the space — what are consumer expectations for the two new additions to Baxter? A lot of names were lofted when the building was first deemed to be available. Time will tell even if no one else is talking further details at this moment.

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RENEE RICHARDSON, Brainerd Dispatch managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz .

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESSBIZ BUZZBAXTER
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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