As crews worked to control the smoldering remains of what once was one of De Pere’s most historic buildings, a crowd of business owners whose livelihoods centered around the commercial part of the building gathered.
“Didn’t even seem real,” Mimi Schroeder of Schroeder Photography Limited told Local 5. “That building’s been here forever.”
The building dates back a century and recently hosted 11 apartment units and about 20 businesses.
Paula Kiley, of The Pilates Studio, says the building on South Broadway was her dream location.
“I love being here,” she said. “Right near the Fox River Trail is my favorite place to have my studio.”
Meanwhile, board members of the Ribbon of Hope Foundation met Wednesday afternoon to discuss their next move.
“We’ve already been contacted by Definitely De Pere and they are working toward finding space for all businesses that were displaced because of the fire,” Tom Rueckl, President of the Ribbon of Hope Foundation said.
Tina Quigley, Executive Director of Definitely De Pere says the goal is to keep most of those businesses in the downtown De Pere area.
“We have already been in touch with a number of other property owners in the downtown district,” she said. “We’ll do what we can to help make those matches and help keep these businesses that call downtown De Pere their home here.”