by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The two deteriorating office buildings in downtown Corunna formerly known as the “Dunchock Buildings” are in the process of being restored, after Michael Luongo purchased the 6,000-square-foot, two-story structure as a tax sale in November 2017. The conjoined buildings, located across the street from the Shiawassee County Courthouse – at 223 and 225 N. Shiawassee St. – in Corunna, were “red-tagged” by the city of Corunna in 2013 as “unsafe for occupancy.”
Luongo, formerly a resident of Holt, took possession of the buildings eight months ago and recently moved to Owosso as he works diligently to repair the shell of the dilapidated structure. Luongo previously spent years rehabbing a barn in Holt and was seeking a new project when he discovered the buildings in Corunna. He fell in love with the historic brick buildings, as well as the warm and friendly small-town charm of Corunna, which reminded him of his hometown, Saint Joseph, MI.
Luongo was not quite prepared, however, for the level of disrepair he encountered. In addition to the floors being covered with boxes, furniture and various forms of debris, the long list of extensive damages to the structure included an 8- by 8-foot hole on the west wall, the partially covered roof was severely water damaged and sagging, and water damage had caused a portion of the floor on the first level to collapse.
A previous report by Rowe Professional Services and Perrin Construction estimated it would cost upwards of $160,000 to restore the structure, but so far Luongo has invested more time and effort than anything else. He spent two months clearing debris, filling five 30-yard dumpsters in the process, and he has since spent every available night and weekend working to secure the structure from the elements.
Luongo is making good progress on removing and replacing the roof, which will be covered with fiberglass GRP, and he plans to start repairing the west wall after that, though he will likely require outside assistance in fixing the foundation.
“Right now I am working to repair the roof and back wall, so I can stop the deterioration of the interior,” reports Luongo. “When I was restoring my barn I could pick and choose when I worked on it, but I do not have the same luxury of time with this project. I have always loved old brick buildings like this, so I am excited to turn this eyesore into something the community can be proud of.”
Luongo plans to turn the upper level into two apartments and to create office spaces on the lower level, though much of the layout will come together as the project progresses. Luongo does plan to move the upstairs entrance from its current location on the east side of the structure, along Shiawassee Street, to the west side of the structure. He also has plans to add a balcony off the west side of the structure. As for the rest of the structure’s design, Luongo will continue to work with the city to determine how to best incorporate the space into the city’s current layout and future development plans.