After more than a year of extensive renovations, the former Downtown Mall on Seventh Street in downtown Brainerd-renamed the Brainerd Lofts-will be open to the public to view with an open house at noon and a ribbon cutting at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20.

The former Downtown Mall was purchased by Pueringer Investments. Dave Pueringer of Pueringer Investments, estimated the building dates back to 1925-1930. The remodel included transforming the location into 14 upstairs apartments and 12 retail or office spaces, set on the main level and downstairs.

The open house is tied to the Destination Downtown Launch Party, which is planned from 4-5 p.m. Thursday at the Lofts, 217 S. Seventh St. The event is also free and open to the public.

This year's contest offers an even bigger prize package worth $65,000 in what organizers report will be the final year for the Destination Downtown Business Challenge.

The challenge seeks entrepreneurs willing to locate a business in downtown Brainerd and offers business mentors and a prize package to help the winner bring their vision to reality. Previous winners were Brenda Bilman-Arndt, who opened the Purple Fern Bath Co. in a renovated storefront on Laurel Street and Marie Kirsch, who plans to open her Knotty Pine Bakery this summer in the renovated former Iron Rail building at 707 Laurel St.

Past contests also offered prize packages for the other finalists. In 2017 and 2018, three finalists were chosen. In 2017, there were 49 applicants. In 2018, more than 70 applications were submitted for the contest. All entrants were given an opportunity to enroll for free in the "Going into Business for Yourself" class offered at Central Lakes College.