"I may be able to blend that in with whatever green space they build and blend that in with a little green space with whatever I build. You want everything to flow together and attract people downtown."
Mize noted that any clients of his law firm or that of Mingo Winters should contact them since the fire destroyed all their files and contact information.
The fire came at a time when a lot of new activity is going on in downtown Beckley. A few blocks away, phase one of the Beckley Intermodal Gateway, funded by more than $20 million in Federal Transit Agency money, will wrap up this spring.
The first phase will feature a new parking garage with about 350 spaces and a bus transit mall and public plaza, with future plans calling for a mixed use retail center, civic office space, welcome center and more.
Meanwhile, a 200-seat theater, the Raleigh Playhouse and Theater, is under construction at the opposite end of Neville Street, a short walk from the site of the fire. The $1.2 million theater is a project of Dan Bickey, who just last August opened McBee's Irish Pub on Neville Street.
"I think the future of downtown is brighter now than it has been in the past," said Mayor Pugh. "That's why when you have a fire it's just a tragedy to lose two ongoing businesses that have been there a long time."
The fire struck on an auspicious anniversary and in nearly the exact same spot -- this year marks the 100th year anniversary of a downtown fire on April 15, 1912, that leveled two full blocks and nearly 40 businesses, noted real estate agent and local historian Scott Worley, chairman of the Raleigh County Historic Landmark Commission.
Monday's fire -- the cause of which was still undetermined last week -- took out two buildings put up in the 1920s that were part of the downtown National Historic District, established in the 1990s.
"These were very key buildings to the historic district," said Worley, who once kept an office in one of the buildings. "Not only because of their location -- the one building with Kopy Xpress and Trio Consignment was virtually unchanged from its original appearance.
"We're still in a lot of shock. Obviously, whatever happens to this piece of property we want it to fit into the character of the historic district that surrounds it."
David Sibray, former head of the landmarks commission who now runs Sibray LLC, a public relations and consulting firm, noted that "when you've got a building missing in your streetscape, you've got a knocked-out tooth -- and you have to figure out how you're going to replace that."
Whatever fills in the space, Sibray said that all effort should be made to echo the character of the area's history.
"My only recommendation is that the Landmark Commission, the city of Beckley and the landowners consult with authorities in this matter since it is a national historic district. I would hope a thousand years from now folks could visit this historic district in Beckley. That is the goal -- to preserve the district as long as possible."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.