Craig LaBrie remembers the days when downtown Redwood Falls was alive with activity.
He recalled memories of back to school parades and crazy days events when the streets were packed.
LaBrie is hoping to bring those days back and to revitalize the downtown again.
He and his wife, Cindy, are also doing their part to make that happen.
The LaBries made a significant real estate transaction at the corner of Second and Washington streets earlier this year after moving back to town.
After looking for ways to help redevelop the downtown in an effort to create a more vibrant regional destination, the LaBries purchased the old “Wilson’s building” believing it could be the cornerstone in that redevelopment vision.
According to Craig, LaBrie, the site has long been a prominent retail corner for the city, and over the years has been home to key buildings, including the Francois Hotel and later the State Bank of Redwood Falls. Retail operations owned and operated by Francois and Schmahl as well as Aune and Thune once were well-respected businesses in the downtown.
In 1903 a devastating fire burned the hotel, and according to history the location was the site for a building that included Richard Sears as part of the investment in its development.
The history of the building also includes figures, such as John Dillinger, who many claim was staking out the bank across the street, which he had planned to rob, from the state bank. The LaBries have become very aware of that history and hope to utilize it in plans they are developing.
According to Craig LaBrie, the plan includes three separate businesses that would be housed in the building, including First & Main, which is a restaurant and bar planned to be on the top floor of the building.
The second business, Redwood River Outfitters, is going to be housed on the main floor and would offer retail items and things for rent focusing on recreation.
Craig said the outfitters business would encourage recreation in area bodies of water and along biking paths, with things, such as canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, for rent.
The vision also includes setting up tours that would include being shuttled to a drop-off point on the Red-wood River, the Minnesota River or even in Lake Redwood. (Having this kind of business option available could push the Lake Redwood reclamation project to the top of the priority list, said LaBrie.)
The third potential venture is called Redwood Prairie Products, and the vision would be to set up space in the facility for artisans of all types to offer their products for sale. The idea, said Craig, is to offer a retail space for a local products brand for the Redwood area promoting quality products, such as art work or baked goods, which are developed and made in the area.
Page 2 of 2 - This retail space would be in the western portion of the building on the main floor.
LaBrie said the basement area is also part of the plan, with spaces potentially set up for conference areas, and the bank vault in the basement being converted potentially into a wine cellar.
LaBrie, who most recently was working in Seattle, has construction management and property management experience, and he said after the building is cleared out a more specific plan is going to be developed.
He has plans for an elevator, with the restaurant on the top floor in the eastern side of the building and a bar on the west side in what was once the home of the local American Legion.
The LaBries are hoping to open up the building once again with the windows all uncovered and a view of the building similar to what it looked like originally.
An open house is being held Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the main floor of the building, with a small display of each of the three business ideas available for those who visit.