Flint, Michigan has had a tough couple of decades. If the auto plant closings and shutdowns weren’t enough, terrible decisions by the state legislature and officials under the Snyder administration put its residents in jeopardy. Those same residents will be dealing with the aftereffects of the water crisis for the rest of their lives. Becoming the poster child for urban decay (and bad state politics) is no community’s economic development end goal.
While the news out of Flint has often been troubling, there are some signs of a resurgence…a recovery…a renewed sense of hope. Unfortunately, these are too often lost in established public and media perceptions that are hard to break.
Is everything hunky dory? Absolutely not! But there are some signs of a turnaround, particularly in the downtown area. Here are some examples, including nearly $200 million in current development due to be completed in 2019.
- Mott Community College Culinary Institute = $13 million
- Coolidge Park Apartments = $16.5 million
- Clark Commons = $16.9 million
- The Marketplace = $19.6 million
- Cultural Center Academy = $35 million
- Flint River Restoration = $37 million
- Hilton Hotel Buckham Square = $37.9 million
- U of M Flint Science Building = $39 million
- Perry Drugs renovation to a credit union = $1.4 million
- The Eberson Bar Arcade (to be completed in 2019)
- Lear Manufacturing (completed 2018) = $33.7 million
- Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (completed 2018)
- The Dryden Building renovation (completed 2018) = $6.8 million
- Educare Flint (completed 2018) = $11 million
- Kettering University Research Center and Proving Grounds (completed 2018) = $4 million
- Capitol Theatre renovation (completed 2017) = $37 million
- Ferris Building (The Ferris Wheel) renovation (completed 2017) = $7.5 million
- Flint Development Center (completed 2017)
- Factory Two (completed 2017)
A couple of other positive aspects about Flint that are not publicized often enough are the following:
- The City of Flint has been a Tree City USA for more than 18 years.
- The Flint Farmers’ Market was named a Great American Public Space by the American Planning Association in 2015
In this age of climate change and global warming, restoring our industrial legacy cities, such as Flint, may be one of our best and most cost-effective options for reducing our collective carbon footprint and greenhouse gases. The infrastructure is already there and doesn’t have to be recreated by building anew elsewhere.
A city is not a disposable object, but a living entity that should be nurtured. A society that tosses aside some places and people in the hellbent decadence of turbo-capitalism, will never truly thrive. Instead, it will languish is a cesspool of economic and social divisiveness.
My wish is that the seeds of hope will continue to sprout and germinate throughout Flint and help bring about a complete urban resurgence. That would be a great story to tell, indeed. For now though, all of us should strive to never let a similar series of events happen again. The elitism, racism, social inequity, and economic injustices associated with how the City of Flint was simply left for dead were/are despicable. As a society, we cannot attain complete and true equity and inclusiveness, if some of us are constantly being left behind.