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New building to fill void in Homer

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

The site of a fatal fire at 23 South Main St. in Homer.

For more than a year there has been a hole in the ground where a building used to stand at South Main and Pine streets. But that may change next year.

Jamie Yaman, principal broker for Yaman Real Estate, said he and his father, David, plan to buy the property and develop it through another corporate entity. They are researching the feasibility of building a $2 million building at 21-23 S. Main St., where a three-story building stood before it was destroyed in a fire in 2016 that killed a man.

The new building would also be three stories tall, with the first floor used for commercial purposes and top two floors for residential space, Jamie Yaman said.

The firm is not looking to build a modern three-story building, either. Yaman said it wants to construct a building that matches the historic nature of the village and makes Homer residents proud.

“We’re taking it seriously,” Yaman said.

The former three-story building dated back to the 1800s and was owned by David Ames, who still owns the property. The building held Ames’ law office and Homer Coiffeur on the first floor and two apartments on the second. The third floor was vacant.

Brian H. Bermudez, 40, who used to live in the building, is accused of causing the fire that burned it down.

Investigators said Bermudez was making meth — a highly combustible process for creating an illegal drug — which is believed to have started a fire on Sept. 2, 2016. As a result of the fire, the occupant of a neighboring apartment, Dewayne Block, 81, died, police said. Jury selection in the case is to begin Monday.

Since the fire, the building site has been a large square hole in the ground with a fence around it.

“It was a black eye of downtown Homer,” Yaman said. “When seeing the building like that, we wanted to jump in and see what we could do.”

When approaching Ames about the project, Yaman said Ames shared the same vision about what should be built. Ames could not be reached for comment.

The two parties came to a contractual agreement wherein the Yamans would explore the cost to build the building and what funding it can get to do so.

With the estimated cost of the building about $2 million, Yaman said he is trying to secure state funds — up to 40 percent of the cost — to help with the project.

Village Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said the village is applying for $650,000 in state funding trying to assist Yaman in developing the building.

“We are pushing forward to get that space developed and if all goes according to plan, construction should start in the spring or summer,” McCabe said.

The project is still in its preliminary phase. There is not final design of how many residential spaces the building would have, or what they would look like. So no rents have been established, but Yaman said the rent won’t be the rate you would find in a traditional $2 million building. It’ll be less.

That’s because Yaman isn’t developing the building just for profit. It is the company’s chance to build something new, yet in keeping with the village’s historic facade, from the ground up, and help it fill an odd hole on Main Street.

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