Want to control what happens next door to you while improving your neighborhood? Buy the property. That’s the motivation behind today’s purchase of 5-7 Genesee Street by an investment group headed by architect and future downtown resident Steve Carmina. Cue the hallelujah chorus.
Many were concerned that 5-7 Genesee was going to be demolished. Carmina had other plans. Once his purchase offer was accepted, he put together a team of like-minded investors to take on the project. He’s working with Roger Trettel, a pioneering downtown developer with other properties on the 500 block. Others involved include Steve’s cousin, Steven A. Carmina, an accountant, and Joe Piccone, owner of Bison Electrical Services. The new development team is also looking at other opportunities downtown.
Carmina and his wife Brenda are renovating 9 Genesee Street next door as their new home with a small amount of ground floor commercial space. The decrepit buildings next door will get a similar mixed-use makeover. The interconnected buildings will become residential and commercial space. The front façade will be restored and later additions to the rear of the building will be removed to create a courtyard.
Two, large two-story units, one with 1,350 sq.ft. the other with 1,650 sq.ft., are planned along with a one-bedroom, single-level unit with 745 sq.ft. Commercial space will be available on the first floor and Carmina is already talking to interested tenants including several restaurants. Carmina and his team expect to begin work to shore up the building this fall while securing pre-leases from potential residential and commercial tenants.
The rehab of 5-7 will finish off and give a new look to the north end of the 500 Block of Main Street that fronts Roosevelt Plaza. Paul and Sandra Wilkins are renovating 537 Main Street as their new home and restaurant, Raclettes. Carmina expects to move into 9 Genesee in a few months and Oshun will be opening at 5 E. Huron Street next spring. They will join the Urban League, a long-time anchor of the block.
Work on the block is far from done but there’s good news on that front. There are other projects coming together that will nearly finish off transformation of this critical downtown block that was forlorn just a few short years ago.
“When this is done, it is going to be pretty stinking cool,” says Carmina.