Denton residents woke up the day after Christmas to unexpected news: in the early morning, the Downtown Mini Mall II had been engulfed in flames. The similar memories for longtime residents, as 23 years ago a fire on the west side of the square destroyed three businesses.
For 37 years, Leo Will has owned the iconic Denton Square mini mall, but the fire may very well bring an end to that tenure. The damage to the building is significant, and the fire burned through the roof. The owner’s family has started a GoFundMe page, but the $200,000 goal for the campaign is far from being reached. The Downtown Mini Mall was also home to dozens of vendors, and though the second location on the square has been able to reopen, many vendors lost inventory. A separate GoFundMe page has been established for those vendors.
Other businesses are facing steep challenges as well, with La Di Da boutique and Shop the Barn losing nearly all of their inventories. Jupiter House Coffee, a popular spot for both millennials and long-time residents, remains closed with uncertainty surrounding its possible reopening.
However, some good news has emerged from those affected by the fire; Hooligans, a bar located on the southwest side of the square, was able to reopen on New Year’s Eve. An additional GoFundMe page has been established to help more than 12 businesses impacted by the fire.
The fire was so intense that the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square was forced to temporarily close as well. It took in so much smoke through its HVAC system that the interior suffered soot damage. Repairs to the courthouse museum could last up to a year, as many of the museum items will likely need treatment and care after being exposed to soot.
The impact of the fire was not limited only to business owners, as the apartments above Shop the Barn and La Di Da were damaged as well. Residents were forced to relocate, and only four apartments have been confirmed to have been approved to reopen to this point. It is unknown if any residents have moved back in.
To be sure, the west side of the Denton Square has been changed by this tragedy. The Denton Square has always evolved with the times, with shops closing and reopening throughout the years, but the mini mall has been a constant for almost four decades. TWU students can show their support by contributing to one or all of the GoFundMe Campaigns and simply continuing to frequent Denton Mini Mall II and other businesses on the square.