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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Genesee Towers Here Forever?


By Stephanie Hackney

Since the controversial Aug. 2012 sale of Genesee Towers for $1 to Uptown Reinvestment Corporation by Emergency Manager Michael Brown, news and gossip about the inevitable demolition of the building has been circling the city.

Rumors have spread that Uptown lacked the funds necessary to demolish the former office tower but Gerard Burnash, Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority, states that those rumors are, “completely untrue,” and that Uptown is merely waiting on the completion of necessary asbestos testing and removal before proceeding with a safe demolition.

Uptown which has been working to create a strong downtown through the creation of new living and work places, would like to complete the process by the end of October and begin turning the lot into an Urban Plaza or green space with a recreation area and park in the middle of the city. While a date has not been officially set for the implosion yet, the event will forever change the City of Flint skyline.

In 1968, headlines marked the construction of the much anticipated and needed office building Genesee Towers as complete, making it the first large building of its kind in Downtown since 1929 when the Union Industrial Bank was built.

Since then, the tower has gone through a series of owners who have neglected the building’s maintenance, forcing businesses to leave the building rather than renew their leases.

The tower again made headlines in 2010 when a judge ruled that the City of Flint was responsible for paying owner, V. Kumar Vemulapalli, over $6 million after the real estate investor sued the city for allegedly trying to seize the building from him through unnecessary condemnation.

Stephanie Hackney can be reached at

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