Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Genesee Towers: It Won't Go Down Without a Very Expensive Fight
Genesee Towers is Flint's tallest and arguably its ugliest building. But the abandoned eyesore at 120 E. First Street near the venerable Mott Foundation Building is also the biggest example Flint's fall from prosperity. Here's a timeline of the ongoing saga based on the excellent coverage by The Flint Journal's Kristen Longley:
1968: Genesee Towers built to house the former Genesee Merchants Bank.
2001: Owner V. Kumar Vemulapalli is first cited by the city for code violations.
2002: Building is vacant.
2004: City condemns the 19-story building. "The building has to come down, or someone's going to get killed," says former Mayor Don Williamson.
2004: Kumar Vemulapalli sues the city for condemning the building.
2006: City and Vemulapalli agree to enter arbitration to determine the value of the property. "By agreeing to that process, [Williamson] effectively agreed to pay whatever the arbitrator said was the fair market value," current City Attorney Pete Bade told the Journal this fall.
2007: City closes traffic lanes surrounding the building to prevent injuries from falling debris.
2007: Arbitrator awards Vemulapalli more than $6 million, including legal fees, plus interest.
2007 - 2009: The case is appealed multiple times with the city arguing the arbitrator exceeded his scope of authority in reaching the decision.
2009: In December, the Court of Appeals upholds the arbitration award.
2010: In June, the Michigan Supreme Court refuses to hear city's final appeal of the Court of Appeals decision.
2010: In October, City Assessor William Fowler announces that state law requires the city to put a millage on the property tax rolls to pay for the judgment, which has now climbed to more than $8 million. While the exact amount is yet to be determined, it is estimated that the tax will cost the average Flint homeowner $150.
2010: In November, the Genesee Landlords Association sues the city over the plan to tax property owners in December to pay for the judgment. "We want to make sure before they spread this $8 million to the taxpayers that the city truly does not have any cash to pay it with," says Terry Hanson, executive director of the landlords association.
To be continued...