Gino, His Garage and the New Downtown


At a recent hearing at the Regional Justice Center, Judge Ann Zimmerman ruled to evict Hassan “Gino” Massoumi and his business, Downtown Express Oil & Tune, from land owned by a company with ties to Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project. The auto-repair shop on East Stewart Avenue had counted many Downtown residents as customers during its 10 years of business—but not enough, and Massoumi, 66, said he had fallen behind on his rent by several months.

After the August 14 ruling, Massoumi and his wife, Gabriella, mused over what they should do with the key when they vacate the premises. They concurred that it didn’t really matter, as they believe the building will be torn down to make way for new development. “They need that property to do whatever they want with it,” Massoumi said. (A Downtown Project spokesperson says plans for the property are not yet finalized.)

The closure marks yet another change in the Downtown landscape, as the area shifts from its blue-collar foundation to its white-collar potential, as envisioned by the Downtown Project. A mechanic shop may not fit in with this aesthetic, but it offers a service many area residents arguably need more than a boutique, bar or bark park. Will any “meat and potatoes” businesses, as one customer of Massoumi’s terms them, remain in the area—or will it be dominated by esoteric shops and services?