Speculation on the future of Dondelinger's Motor City location, 23 acres at the intersection of Highways 371 and 210 in Baxter, has been rampant.
One option involves Opus, the developers behind the acclaimed Maple Grove "main street" and Arbor Lakes area, with a variety of familiar retail names. But those plans appear to be on hold because of a Baxter city road plan to extend Cypress Drive.
Roger Dondelinger, owner of Dondelinger Chevrolet Cadillac Inc., said they were working with Opus and the developer had found interested retailers who wanted to open stores in the lakes area.
Store names included clothing retailers like Old Navy, Famous Footwear, T.J. Maxx and home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports. A couple of restaurants also were expected. And Lowe's home improvement store, which would have been the biggest store, also was interested.
The plan appeared to include nine retailers and two eateries. Dondelinger said the design called for noted architecture and fountains. But Dondelinger said nothing can happen now as the project is in limbo until the company finds out what will actually happen with the city of Baxter's planned Cypress Drive extension.
Dondelinger said he may have to retain the Motor City site as an option to move his auto dealership from its location to the east along Highway 210.
He said prime locations are getting hard to find in Baxter and he cannot let the Motor City site go until he knows whether he will be able to have full use of his current site for expansion.
Baxter City Planner Todd Holman previously noted the city has to look at traffic patterns 20 years into the future and protect corridors.
City officials have talked for some time about extending Cypress Drive north from the Industrial Park to Wise Road to help create a loop around the city's major traffic corridors.
The city and Dondelinger differ in opinions as to how much the Cypress Drive extension would affect the dealership. Dondelinger said the road right-of-way would be three feet from the service department building and make it unusable.
The city and Dondelingers have discussed what it would cost to replace the auto dealership location or affected land should the road project continue.
But Dondelinger said taxpayers should know an Opus development at Motor City would bring in shoppers and revenue with first-class stores and not more big boxes.
Dondelinger said Opus showed drawings and intentions to Baxter officials. But Holman said he had not seen a drawing for the site proposal. With potential plans for developments seemingly steady in Baxter, city officials typically become more involved when a plan moves from concept to official proposal.
The issue of Cypress Drive and the affect on the Dondelinger location is expected to come up at future Baxter city meetings.
Prairie Bay, a Heartland Restaurant, is expected to open in the lakes area in March.
The restaurant, near the intersection of Highway 371 and Woida Road, is being described as having a casual and comfortable feel with a "Frank Lloyd Wright inspired space featuring large open beams, cut stone fireplaces and a granite-topped bar." Nor-son architect Steve Rose is behind the design. Restaurant promotional material is dubbing the eating experience as a "culinary adventure in the north woods."
The chef behind the adventure is Tim Anderson, formerly executive chef at Goodfellow's in Minneapolis and most recently at Napa Valley Grille in the Mall of America.
Anderson is defining heartland cooking as "American home-cooked flavors amplified in a professional kitchen." Prairie Bay menu options are expected to include -- smoked Wild Acres duck breast with tarragon-black currant sauce, shrimp burger with chile-honey mayonnaise and Minnesota bison prime rib.
Lunch prices are expected to range from $7 to $8 for sandwiches and entree salads, $8 to $10 for pastas and wood-oven pizzas or up to $15 for pan-seared salmon with cabernet and risotto primavera.
Dinner prices are expected to range from $8 to $10 for pastas and pizzas and $14 to $24 for main course entrees.
Prairie Bay will have two weekend brunches. The kitchen has a wood-fired oven and a smoker. The restaurant will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Lane Johnson, who worked with Anderson at Goodfellow's, will be teaming up with Anderson in the kitchen. Anderson has a stated passion for fresh locally produced ingredients.
He has worked at Michael's on East in Sarasota, Fla., Caf Marimba and Lulu in San Francisco, Routh Street and Baby Routh in Dallas and for Restaurant Associates (contract caterers for sites such as the Kennedy and Rockefeller centers and L.A. Music Center -- home of the Academy Awards) in Manhattan and Los Angeles.
While at Goodfellow's, Anderson was chosen as one of Food & Wine Magazine's 10 best chefs in the United States. Anderson once prepared dinner for Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife at the governor's mansion in St. Paul.
Snips and Snaps, a scrapbook store, opened on east Broadway in Little Falls. Wendy Lamont and Steve Reinhardt opened the store. It offers scrapbook supplies, classes, free work room, birthday parties and group demos.
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