Madelia bouncing back, a year after fire destroyed downtown

Downtown Madelia looks drastically different than it did one year ago, but financially there is still a lot of recovery that has to happen.

Krystal Hernandez is anxious to get her La Plaza Fiesta Mexican Restaurant and market back to Main Street. She owns one of nine businesses that were forced to temporarily relocate after a blaze last year ripped through seven century-old buildings, leaving a massive hole downtown.

“It's crazy we have buildings standing here in a year,” said Hernandez. “It's crazy.”

A YEAR AGO: Main Street fire in Madelia, Minn. destroys nearly 10 businesses

“It's home and it has been for many years,” said Jim Petersen runs a Culligan store. Culligan is first of two businesses to return to the burned out block so far.

“Almost everyone who owns buildings here grew up here...we’re born here,” said Petersen. “It's probably not the best business decision we've ever made, but it was the right thing to do.”

In the year since Feb. 3, 2016, fire donations have poured in upwards of half a million dollars, but rebuilding takes a lot more than that. The city and county have abated taxes, state aid passed, but later vetoed. Tom Osborne, who helped organize the Madelia Strong non-profit, says this left landlords, who own the new multi-million dollar block, in the red.

“There was money promised, it was built based on promises, but right now is still in limbo,” said Osborne.

Osborne says there's been a domino effect at stake over the past year.  This hadn't been just an all or nothing success story for the business owners and landlords involved, but the entire town.

“You take 38-40 jobs off Main Street, it's going to affect grocery store, gas station, hospital, schools,” said Osborne. “The people that rebuilt are very, very unselfish to do what they did.”