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Menards meeting with Bemidji city officials this week

The plans for a Menards store in Bemidji appear to be back on track.

Menards received approval for its planned store back in 2007, but has not proceeded due to the economy.

A Menards representative, however, is now expected to meet with city and joint planning staff Thursday to discuss the project.

Jeff Abbott, a spokesman with Menard Inc., would not confirm whether the Bemidji store plans are moving forward.

"As always, we have a number of store building projects in various stages of development at any given time," he said in an e-mail to the Pioneer. "It is our policy not to comment on our future store development plans."

Menards previously had planned a 240,000-square-foot center to be located on the former Spaulding Motors site along Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest.

Troy Bronk, an attorney for Menard Inc. told the Pioneer in 2007 that the store would employ between 150 and 200 people.

If Menards is, indeed, moving forward, the plans will not have to again go through official review. The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board approved the plans in June 2007.

Al Felix, the Bemidji city attorney, said the developer's agreement between the city and Menards was planned to stay in effect for four years.

It was signed in August 2007.

"They're well within that four-year window," Felix said.

Felix said his understanding was that Menards hopes to begin the land preparation for the store - such as tree-clearing - this spring.

A signal light will be installed to gain access to the Menards store, if it is constructed.