Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tower of Power?

Genesee Towers, the county's largest and perhaps ugliest building, is abandoned and, apparently, ready for the wrecking ball. The city is so worried that pieces might start falling off the building that it's restricting traffic around the 19-story eyesore in downtown Flint.

"This could be a catastrophe. This could be a property catastrophe or a human catastrophe," said City Attorney Trachelle Young.

But building owner Kumar Vemulapalli swears everything is just fine on First Street. "My engineers say the building is safe," he said. "I am currently in court with the city and this is just an attempt by them to influence the judge with all of this hoopla."

For some unfathomable reason, the building is featured on the new
Michigan license plate called
“Spectacular Peninsulas," along with scenic portraits of the state Capitol, Detroit’s Renaissance Center and Grand Rapids’ Alticor Building.

Kelly Chesney, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, said she could not confirm if the square building with a protruding square on the roof is, in fact, Genesee Towers, but she said the agency asked the artist to incorporate Flint’s skyline in the drawing.
No word yet on why it's called Genesee Towers (plural) when there is only one building.

UPDATE: A friend informs me it's plural because the architect claims there are two buildings stacked on top of each other, with an open-air gap in the middle.


  1. I heard that the owner of the tower had bought it for a very cheap price from Flint officials, and now Flint government (or whoever is claiming the building unsafe) is doing everything in their power to ensure this owner can't do anything with it so Flint can own it again... sellers remorse?... that's the rumor I heard anyways...

  2. it was a dumb move on somebody's part. The city was ordered to buy the building back for $1.5 million and has to pay Kumar around $6 million in court costs. The Don was doing some very shady work on this one and he screwed up.

  3. Actually, Genesee Towers wasn't bought from city officials. According to the Journal, it was sold to Genesee Towers Inc -- a "Georgia institutional investment company, in '91, and was "... controlled by a Texas-based real estate investment trust" between '93 and October of '97, when it was sold at auction to V. Kumar Vemulapalli for half a million. The building was reported to require "millions of dollars in repairs" back in '97, when NBD moved out. The Journal states that improvements to its HVAC system and parking deck were necessary.

    Genesee Towers is currently intended to be demolished this coming July, prior to the Crim.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at