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Portage leaders look for new development after fire

Published On: Oct 24 2012 10:26:11 PM CDT
PORTAGE, Wis. -

After a devastating downtown fire this summer, Portage city leaders are looking for new development at the site of the building destroyed in the blaze.

The June fire destroyed the downtown bridal dress shop with an upstairs apartment.

The building was 119 years old. There was nothing to salvage after the fire, and the city has since torn the building down.

The goal now is to get it designated as a blighted area so the city can take it over and then sell it to a developer.

"It actually helps us with getting grants and things like that, in cleaning up the corner and getting it ready to be sold and redeveloped," said Portage Mayor Ken Jahn. "Believe it or not, it's part of the historical district. So we're working with the state Historical Society, and one of the things that's been talked about is putting up a replica of that building."

While the city mulls over the future of the site, the woman who ran the dress shop has decided to reopen in nearby Montello.

She said it's taken a lot of work since the fire, but she'll be back in business Nov. 1.

The Portage fire chief said he still doesn't have a cause for the fire. It started upstairs, but the only person there at the time, a teenage boy, doesn't know how it started.

The fire chief said he hasn't received any tips since asking the public for help some months ago. 

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