Developer Doug Wells talked Monday with Burlington City Council about his plans to reconstruct the two buildings.

Burlington City Council got an update Monday on progress at the Tama Complex more than two months after a massive fire ravaged the 19th-century buildings.

Developer Doug Wells addressed council at its work session with his plan to have a small crew start clearing glass and dirt around the site Wednesday, with the goal of beginning to shore up the partially collapsed structure in about two weeks so the portion of downtown Jefferson Street affected by the fire could reopen.

Wells' insurance company, Grinnell Mutual, completed its investigation and assessment last month, returning the buildings to his control Sept. 23. Since then, Wells said he has communicated with city staff and structural engineers to move forward on securing the two buildings that make up the Tama Complex.

At the time of the Aug. 4 fire, business owners were preparing to move in to the building's first floor, while apartments were going to be listed in its upper floors.

“Emergency shoring” of the buildings, Wells said, will be completed about two weeks after debris on the sidewalk and street is cleared, which he anticipated would be finished about Oct. 24.

His roughly $12 million insurance policy covers replacement costs associated with the Tama Complex, tax credits “that made the building possible,” and loss of income, in addition to some coverage for code updates and cleanup.

"I don't have information regarding the cause or origin of the fire," he said. "Nothing's been forwarded on to us, so we don't know. But I'm optimistic to rebuild and push it forward. We very much want to get the site cleaned up."

Mayor Shane McCampbell and members of the council emphasized to Wells the importance of cleaning up the site and removing the existing barricades from the street so the corner of Jefferson and Third streets could reopen to traffic and return some sense of normalcy to downtown businesses that have been affected by the street closures.

"Because of what happened, it's really, really affecting the downtown," said McCampbell. "People are really wanting to know how close you're going to be able to ride to that timeline. Even with reconstruction, there's other businesses that are suffering."

Based on the timeline established with the company he has hired to oversee construction, Wells expects the reconstructed Tama Complex to be complete in the spring of 2020.

Council agreed that was an ambitious timeline and were hopeful he could stick to it, but their immediate concerns stood with reopening the corner of Jefferson and Third streets so downtown could start to recover.

"If it takes you an extra couple months in order to complete your project to have occupancy in there, I'm fine with that," said councilman Matt Rinker, "as long as the effects to downtown business owners is being minimized."