In the heart of Downtown Brownsville, the Calderoni Building stands as a monument of revitalization and historical preservation. Today, thanks to a unique collaboration between a visionary entrepreneur, Gilbert Hernandez, and a dedicated building owner, Enrique Solorzano, this storied structure is home to Downtown Brownsville's first bookstore, Búho, also to the elegant Ella Bridal Boutique, and a third vacant spot looking for a special kind of entrepreneur as passionate as the individuals that we're about to get to know through the following paragraphs.

Enrique Solorzano, the owner of the historic Calderoni building, has been in the business long enough to become a known character by people all around the city who share similar passions. One of these people is Héctor Zavala – another fellow serial entrepreneur and BCIC's grant recipient. During lunchtime on a sunny summer evening, Mr. Solorzano and Héctor were working together on a renovation for one of the liveliest spots on Washington Street, Mainstreet Deli. Across from the street, a dusty and almost forgotten structure was embedded into Enrique's brain. Enrique couldn't take his eyes off the Calderoni building. He couldn't take it off his mind. He saw potential in the abandoned structure. How can one ignore those beautiful, unique bricks and transom windows?

After months of negotiations, a couple of hurdles, and tragic situations, Mr. Solorzano finally got the keys to the building. "When I bought the Calderoni building, it was in poor condition, but I fell in love with it at first glance, so I took care of it with my own hands and with the help of people who care about it as much as I did," Enrique recalls, reflecting on the year-long labor of love to restore the building.

As the renovation neared completion, Enrique was particular about the type of businesses he wanted in his building. He sought tenants who shared his passion for community and understood the significance of their location in Downtown Brownsville. This is where Gilbert Hernandez comes into the picture – in his own words, a "once introverted young man whose life was transformed by the power of books," Gilbert knew his destiny lay in Downtown Brownsville and nowhere else.

As a classic resourceful entrepreneur, Gilbert had already started Búho as a pop-up shop, traveling around town with a truck full of books. His efforts did not go unnoticed by Enrique. "I saw Gilbert with his cart of books everywhere and thought it was impossible he didn't have a proper space," says Enrique. Without Gilbert's knowing, Enrique began remodeling a vacant space in the Calderoni Building, envisioning it as the perfect spot for a bookstore, hoping that one day someone like Gilbert – but secretly rooting for Gilbert to be the one – would be the tenant of that space. Mr. Solorzano leveraged BCIC's BIG façade improvement, plumbing, and electrical system grants to complete his mission in no time. "'I went looking for resources because I knew such a beautiful space couldn't be wasted. I knew BIG grants existed because I've seen what other people have been doing with them Downtown; it was my turn to give back to the community, too," Enrique commented when asked about the support BCIC provided for his project.

Not much longer, the paths of Enrique and Gilbert crossed outside another Downtown restaurant, where Enrique approached Gilbert with the story that you just read about how he renovated the space, thinking of one day meeting him face-to-face in hopes that he would say yes to the proposal of becoming a tenant. With an almost comical introductory line, Mr. Solorzano said to Gilbert, "Buen día ¿Es usted 'el búho'?" Needless to say, tears of joy almost rolled from Gilbert's eyes when they crossed the street and entered the now-remodeled building. The rest is history. It was a labor of love for the community, dedication to historic preservation, and the perfect house for Búho, Historic Downtown Brownsville's first modern-time bookstore.

"I wanted Búho in a historic building as close to Market Square as possible," shares Gilbert, whose ambition for Búho was to create a space for community well-being and literary exploration. The Calderoni Building now hosts Búho Bookstore, a dream realized by Gilbert and Enrique. Their efforts were supported by the BIG Grants, which were instrumental in both the restoration of the building and the establishment of Búho. Gilbert expresses his gratitude, "I've built this place with the backing of BIG Grants and a $5,000 credit card. The push from BCIC allowed me to acquire things that made Búho truly feel like a bookstore."

Today, both Gilbert and Enrique look towards the future with pride. Búho Bookstore and the Calderoni Building are more than mere business ventures; they embody the spirit of community support, perseverance, and the revival of Downtown Brownsville's historic core.