Kornelys looking to sell and retire

October 14, 2018

A Beaver Dam landmark is hanging on until someone can find a new life for it.

Barb and Lee Kornely, who have owned Kornely’s Craft and Hobby Center downtown for more than four decades, are in discussions to figure out what to do with their building at 128 and 130 Front St. so they can close the shop and retire. The two addresses are combined into one connected space.

The Kornelys originally announced their retirement in 2014. Now, they are proposing their idea of transforming the space into an indoor pathway that leads directly to the upcoming new location for the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre.

“There’s got to be someone who will come up with some nifty way to utilize it,” Barb said.

At the same time, the city is looking to create just such a pathway to the theater, setting aside a portion of the $580,000 the Common Council approved in borrowing for downtown projects to purchase and tear down buildings for the path and a parking lot.

The Kornelys’ idea would keep a downtown building intact. They envision the segment to the left of the entrance could have small shops, like an antique mall, or perhaps artistic and historical displays behind glass walls. Local businesses could place advertisements. There are posts inside that could be used for decoration. There would be plenty of space to place benches for rest away from the elements. The Kornelys imagine such a path being a destination spot for downtown.

“We’ve got some of the biggest buildings in downtown because it’s interrelated,” Barb said. “It’s a logical spot.”

Beaver Dam’s community development committee has discussed the possibility of purchasing the craft shop in closed session meetings. The city made an offer of undisclosed terms to buy 120 Front St., former home of a karate studio, but the owner rejected the offer, and a consignment store will open there at the end of the month instead.

“We’re having a lot of other discussions right now before we move forward on anything else,” said Beaver Dam Mayor Becky Glewen. “We’re taking a lot of other things into consideration.”

In the meantime, the craft shop is still open, with bills and taxes to pay, though operations have been significantly scaled back from previous years. Much of the large space, which was a department store many decades ago, has been cleared out and now empty shelves are up for sale. On an upper balcony, there is a desk with mountains of photos from the shop’s decades in business: its employees and holiday decorations and what used to be.

“We’ve just enjoyed this whole building,” Barb said. “It’s a nice building that’s served us well.”

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