The northern end of the 500 block of Main Street, one of the few intact 19th Century blocks in the city, could be losing a building. Word on the street is that the Texas Red Hots property, two connected buildings at 5-7 Genesee Street, could be demolished due to structural issues. That set off a debate amongst property owners, politicians and others with an interest in the block on whether that is a good idea and what should become of the site if the building is removed.
In May, Ellicott District Council Member Darius G. Pridgen requested that the Department of Permits & Inspections more aggressively enforce City building codes at the Texas Red Hots building, the adjacent property at 9 Genesee Street, and the Rose Nails building around the corner at 535 Main Street.
The 9 Genesee property remains vacant while 535 Main Street was recently purchased by Kevin Helfer and Paul Lamparelli for reuse as commercial and residential space. Structural issues have been found in the 6,920 sq.ft. Red Hots property. Not long ago a potential buyer was looking to open a Greek restaurant at the site but has bailed. The City is said to be considering taking action to demolish the structure.
A number of options being discussed by block stakeholders include:
• Demolishing the building, building a façade and creating a 'pocket park' behind it
• Demolishing the building to provide additional access to neighboring buildings including 9 Genesee, 510 Washington and 535 Main including outdoor dining for the restaurant planned for the Grevers Florist Building at 537 Main
• Complete demolition and appropriate infill
• Demolition but saving and reusing the façade with a new building constructed behind it
• Using City money to stabilize the building until a capable buyer is found
Redevelopment of the 500 Block has been a goal of City officials and downtown leaders for three decades. Developers and end-users have been snapping up properties as of late creating an interesting dilemma on the block. Should the building come down, potentially assisting the redevelopment of four adjacent, vacant properties? Or should the building be stabilized and saved as investment on the block makes reuse of this building more attractive and viable.
5-7 Genesee fronts on Roosevelt Plaza across from the Hyatt hotel and M&T Center. It is located in the 500 Block of Main Street Local Preservation District but is a non-contributing structure.
Access and visibility will improve as a new road is planned in front of the building providing one lane of east-bound traffic from Main Street to Washington Street along with car parking as part of the Main Street retraffic project, reducing the size of Roosevelt Plaza.