Sunlight fell on Broadway basements in Alexandria last week that haven't seen the light of day in more than a century.
That's because heavy machinery from Ferguson Brothers Excavating had already brought down the four historic buildings at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway that were destroyed by a Feb. 25 fire and began work on the underground levels.
The fire destroyed four historic buildings and wiped out six businesses on the corner of 5th Avenue and Broadway in downtown Alexandria. It also displaced nearly two dozen residents from their apartments located above the businesses.
On Thursday, May 21, Mayor Sara Carlson said it would take another week or two to remove all the debris, depending on the weather.
The owners of the buildings that once housed Raaper's Eatery and Ale, Charlie's Bazaar, RM Tattoo, Little Darlings Children's Boutique, Hidden Treasures Collectibles and Comics, and Achieve Wellness Center have been meeting among themselves and with city officials to consider their next step, according to Carlson.
No decisions or word yet on whether any of them will try to rebuild.
"The number-one priority right now for the building owners is to get the site torn down and back to normal," Carlson said.
Relief for the building owners was in the Minnesota Legislature's tax bill and would have provided $115,000 to cover the gap between the demolition costs and what the insurance companies would pay, Carlson said. The tax bill wasn't approved this session but is expected to be taken up during the special session.
Like many others who were watching the work progress at the site, Carlson was surprised by how quickly everything was torn down. "I drove by and couldn't believe that the buildings were all gone," she said.
The debris will be taken to landfills.