Rochester, NY - John "Dutch" Summers said he learned as a young child that he loved to build things.
Summers' family owned Jasco Tools. It was there that Summers learned to love making things.
He also learned the importance of investing in real estate. When he was in his early 20's, he bought up buildings near Exchange Street, where the family-owned tool company was once located.
In the 70's, Summers bought an abandoned building on Saint Paul Street and took advice from some young people he knew and transformed the building into trendy Soho lofts.
"One 50-dollar ad and I leased up a six-story building, those lofts on Saint Paul Street."
Fast forward to 2013 and Summers is still building. " I am a 74 year old apprentice." He tells 13 WHAM.
Summers said it was always his dream to develop the corner of Plymouth Avenue and Main Street into something "spectacular."
Summers unveiled North Plymouth Terrace Business Park on Monday and gave 13WHAM News the first look inside.
It includes a 14-thousand square foot of office space on two floors, with a bird's eye view of downtown.
The U.S. Post Office will occupy the first floor in the building.
The residential side of North Plymouth Terrace includes 21 custom-built homes, ranging in price from 199-thousand dollars to 340-thousand dollars.
Tom Parrish bought one of the first homes.
Parrish moved here from Boston to take the job as Executive Director of Geva Theatre.
He custom designed his home to add space in the kitchen and open up the floor plan. Plus, he added other amenities.
Parrish said several things sold him on this home, including tax breaks from the city. Those tax abatements give buyers a break on their real estate taxes for ten years and can add up to a savings of almost 50-thousand dollars.
Comida also provided tax incentives to help the developer pay for supplies to build the project.
For Parrish, that means his tax bill this year is just a thousand dollars.
It will increase by ten percent each year, but said it is still a savings.
He said it took some of the "sticker shock" out of moving to New York State from Boston, where taxes aren't as high.
Parrish said he also liked the backyard of the home, and the view of the city. Plus, he can walk to work, which Parrish said is why he loves living downtown.
Summers said the tax incentive has helped attract two buyers, a third is in negotiations to buy a home and there are other interested parties.
There is no price on the commercial building, but Summers said if a company offered to buy it and put its stamp on it, he would gladly sell.
He is proud of this latest development, which he said means he can now drive by and say he and his team helped build this.
Tod Myers, Director of Real Estate for Graywood Properties, which is selling the properties, said once people see what the commercial and residential space offers, they too will be sold on it.
Myers said more people now want to work, live and play downtown and this development lets them do that.
According to recent statistics, 32-hundred people now live in downtown Rochester, which is up from 18-hundred just a few years ago.
While living downtown isn't a big deal in other cities, Summers said it is still a growing trend here and he wants to be part of the effort to re-invest in downtown living.
Summers said these custom homes aren't "starter homes." In his words, they are for " mature buyers, people who are well-established. "
He hopes the market will embrace that.