Ready To Renovate At The Moose Exchange

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BLOOMSBURG -- It's been more than six months since a fire badly damaged a community center and art gallery in Bloomsburg.

The director for The Moose Exchange says much of the fire damage has been cleaned up, meaning renovations can begin soon.

It was a sight no one in Bloomsburg wanted to see: The Moose Exchange up in flames. The Moose is an art gallery and community center in downtown Bloomsburg. It was badly damaged by fire on January 30.

"We tried to get it with extinguishers but just never could," said executive director Oren Helbok.

Fire ripped through The Moose Exchange on January 30.

Fire ripped through The Moose Exchange on January 30.

Helbok says the cleanup process started in April and wrapped up early this week. Even though smoke damage can still be seen, Helbok says the worst of the fire damage is cleaned up.

Newswatch 16 took a tour of the empty but improved building.

"The building, it's not clean clean, but it's certainly a big improvement and at this point we could bring contractors in to start the work of rebuilding," Helbok said.

In the meantime, The Moose Exchange is still up and running just a few blocks away in Bloomsburg in a smaller building known as The Antler.

Helbok says the next step to moving back into the original Moose Exchange building is hiring an architect.

"We need to figure out what it will take to get all the systems up and running, electrical, the heating and air conditioning system, plumbing. We know we need windows throughout the building."

There were 10 tenants renting space inside The Moose Exchange at the time of the fire. Many found new places to show their art or run their businesses.

One of those places is Columbia County Bread and Granola.

"We spent about four months between homes, bouncing around, trying to figure out where we're going. We finally got this place set up, this is going to be our retail spot," said Michael Jones, Columbia County Bread & Granola.

Helbok says he would like to move back into the building by next summer.