VIDEO: Business Fire Sparks Downtown Renovations

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CARTERVILLE, Ill. - A silver lining to a ferocious fire. A local city is preparing to clean up its downtown and increase its curb appeal in the process.

City leaders tell Local 6 they've wanted to redesign portions of downtown Carterville, Illinois for almost two decades. Of course, they didn't anticipate a massive fire would give them the spark they need to move forward.

That fire broke out more than two weeks ago at Corbell Electronics in downtown Carterville. It destroyed that business.

Engineers deemed portions of the burned-out building unsafe, so part of it was torn down. The owner is waiting on his insurance claims process to wrap-up before deciding what to do next. The damage was so bad investigators likely won't be able to determine a cause.

The fire also damaged utility lines. They'll have to be replaced. But new plans call for putting them behind the buildings to give the town more of a historic feel.

Rich Stevenson's been cutting hair in downtown Carterville for thirty years.

"Yeah, it gets old, but it's good to me so I love it you know," he said.

The fire came dangerously close to his business. The charred remains are still the subject of small-town chatter.

But also causing a buzz are the city's new plans to tear down utility lines, moving them to the backs of buildings, and adding street-scape lighting.

Stevenson said he's on board.

"It would leave a lot of space to do things here in the front you know," he said.

Carterville Mayor Bill Mausey said Ameren Illinois had to replace some of the burned lines anyway. A project to move the utilities had been in the works for years. The fire pushed the plans into motion.

"It was pretty bad," said John Flora.

But one business that won't see the new street, Create-A-Smile Thrift Store.

Owner John Flora said the damage was so bad, they're having a smoke sale and moving.

He doesn't know where yet but wishes his shop could be a part of the new downtown Carterville.

"It's going to be really nice," he said.

Downtown businesses will have to move their electric meters to the backs of their buildings. The mayor said they aren't sure what those costs will be yet.

wpsdlocal6.com

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