City Hall came first. Then the walking trail appeared. Then lighting and landscaping. Little by little, year after year, Maple Grove's civic campus has inched forward.

This summer, it'll leap.

Construction will begin on a $5.5 million lakefront bandshell and pavilion. And last week, the City Council approved plans for Hennepin County's 40,000-square-foot library to be built nearby.

They're two essential pieces of a vision developed in the 1990s for the Arbor Lakes area -- years before it became best known for shopping.

As a staff report states: "Discussion about a library in what is now the Main Street area of Arbor Lakes began before any of what we see today materialized."

"We knew a civic campus would be a focal point," said City Administrator Al Madsen. "We've been working on that project for 10 years. We've been saving money for longer than that."

The city has been banking extra revenue and paying for benches, trails and gardens as funds allowed. Now it has enough for the bandshell and the pavilion surrounding it, where city leaders envision bustling summer concerts.

That venue will bring more bodies to an area already populated by a Life Time Fitness, the community center and, of course, shops.

It's about vibrancy, said Bob Waibel, the city's just-retired community development director.

"There are just some places people are drawn to. When you come out here on Maple Grove Days, you see some of that," he said. "Now, with what will be built in these spaces, that might extend to longer periods of time."

Construction will start this summer on the library, which will open in 2010 on a compact piece of property on the Main Street corridor near the town green. The site is "absolutely one of the best," said Dick Edwards, acting community development director, in large part because it's near so many of the city center's features.

The idea is for people to park their cars and then walk from one attraction to another.

But the site is also small, which led to compromises on how traffic moves within it. That's one reason the planning commission recommended denying the site plan. But the City Council approved it unanimously after assurances that traffic flow is "actually quite creative," according to a letter from the traffic engineer.

The city will benefit from the library's construction: Site preparation for its bandshell and pavilion, including grading, will be done in conjunction with the library's.

"We're getting closer," Edwards said. "It's been a long time coming."

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168