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EARLIER: Downtown Shelbyville owner working on plan to rebuild

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600 block demolished by fire may feature a new courtyard

By Todd Martin

As the fire was ravaging several buildings he owned on the 600 block of Main Street two weeks ago today, Jim Reynolds said he was ready to give up.

“When I was standing there watching in front of the buildings as my life was burning up, I felt like I just wanted my insurance check so I could go home,” he said. “I was done, beaten.”

But as they say, time heals all wounds.

“But you know how it is, one guy introduces me to another, and then that guy starts talking,” he said. “Then somebody starts to draw you a picture, and that gets the creative juices flowing.”

The fire, which started around 4:30 a.m. on March 6, had Shelbyville and Shelby County firefighters busy all day and through the night before it was fully extinguished on Thursday when the cleanup started. The businesses that were once housed in the buildings from 612 to 618 Main Street are now nothing but a clear lot. The store fronts of those three buildings had housed Creative Spirits Counseling Service, Fiesta Mexicana and an expansion space for the restaurant and a consignment shop.

But with some time, Reynolds now has the beginnings of a plan – a plan to bring back the buildings, the storefronts and even, hopefully, a few things to make downtown even better.

“There are a hundred options out there, I just got to see how it all fits together,” he said.

Right now, Reynolds has a preliminary plan that he’s working on, and he’s getting input anywhere he can.

“I’ve talked to a lot of different people, and we’re looking into what we can do,” he said. “We’re waiting to actually draw up plans because we want to get everything right the first time.

“The idea right now, and of course this is all hypothetical, is to have the Creative Spirits building back on one side and the Sam’s Place building back on the other side with a forty-by-forty or forty-by-sixty garden area in between. Then behind that would be Fiesta. We’re working with them to come back and any other storefronts.”

The courtyard-concept would take better advantage of the depth of the property, and Reynolds said the buildings would have front and rear access.

The total cost of the rebuild will vary depending on what kind of plan he ends accepts, but Reynolds said it could be anywhere between $600,000 and $800,000.

“And insurance isn’t going to cover all of that,” he said. “So we’re trying to see if there are any other ways we can get funding, like grants or anything else.”

Reynolds said he is also still waiting for the insurance investigation to wrap up.

“They’ve said no arson, so that’s good, but we have to wait for the whole thing to be finished and official,” he said. “Once they’re done with the full analysis, then we can move forward. It’s all up in the air now.”

But now, finally, Reynolds is sure he wants to move forward.