Follow Up: Downtown Melrose Rebuilding After Fire [VIDEO]
MELROSE -- We continue our follow-up series, Whatever Happened With That, by traveling outside of St. Cloud, to the town of Melrose.
It's been nearly two years since a fire destroyed a portion of downtown Melrose and finally, the town is being able to rebuild.
"What we've done to date is we are actively reconstructing the utilities -the road, the sewer, the water - a full reconstruct here to bring it up to modern standards. Especial to replace what was damaged by the fire."
City Administrator Michael Brethorst says the city received $1.3 million from the state's tax bill last year for redevelopment. However, the town was only able to use $750,000 of that total since it hasn't signed off on a developer for the project yet.
"We are in active negotiations to see development reoccur on the site but that's still a complex development in progress."
Melrose tried to get an extension to keep the other $550,000 but wasn't successful.
"We did get it passed in the last tax bill. However, with the governor's veto of the tax bill, it makes it difficult for us here in greater Minnesota because the tax bill had some significant extensions for us to allow us to make this become a reality."
The city is currently working with local lawmakers to try to get that funding once again, to finish the project.
As for the 11 local business impacted by the blaze, Brethorst says many decided to relocate elsewhere in Melrose.
"We've had some storefronts get redeveloped. We also had one business totally remodel two separate businesses here in the downtown. We also have improvements to our 400 block itself, we had a business put on new siding, replace all of the windows and also do interior improvements as well."
To further help business owners the city created a storefront revitalization program where owners can apply for a grant to help with redevelopment. Also, the original sales tax exemption on building materials for businesses affected by the fire is still active until July 31st. The city is looking to extend that exemption.
Brethorst says Melrose has a lot of work still to do but it's nice to see it coming together.
"Even though we haven't had somebody rebuild on the 400 block itself we still have had infill occur in greater Minnesota, here in Melrose. We are really happy and pleased about that."
The downtown fire started in an apartment unit in the 400 block of Main Street in September 2016, about four months after St. Mary's Church in Melrose was set on fire.