The City of Flint faces serious challenges related to its high number of abandoned properties and vacant lots. These empty patches in the landscape pose safety risks, decrease the city’s visual quality, and often contribute to environmental contamination.

One of the most problematic vacant lots, a 130-acre property known in Flint as “Chevy in the Hole,” was a key center of manufacturing for General Motors for most of the past century. Adjacent to downtown and surrounded by residential neighborhoods, redevelopment of this riverfront property will play a key role in Flint’s recovery.

In this planning document, the Flint Futures group from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan presents two scenarios for redevelopment of Chevy in the Hole, each responding to a different series of plausible assumptions about residual contamination and Flint’s future growth. Both scenarios are based on the stated preferences of Flint’s residents and business owners.

Reimagining Chevy in the Hole Committee

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Flint River District will become a vibrant, mixed-use urban area containing stable, diverse and safe residential neighborhoods, successful research and development businesses, and new eighborhood-scale retail uses, all centered around an interconnected network of riverfront parks and natural open spaces. The vision for the District builds on three major framework elements:

  1. Reclaiming the Flint River to create an attractive and inviting open space feature at the center of the District that is integrated with the regional open space network
  2. Transforming Third Avenue into a new University Boulevard with a strong visual identity that gives prominence to adjacent institutions, and encourages new investment in surrounding neighborhoods.
  3. Implementing several strategic development initiatives that will build on these two framework elements.
Flint River District Strategy - Sasaki Plan (pdf)

About the Corridor Alliance The Flint River Corridor Alliance brings people together around our riverfront to promote a vibrant community. The Corridor Alliance’s priority areas focus on  strengthening neighborhoods, improving infrastructure, restoring and improving access to the river in order to attract people and commerce to the region.
Partnership guides the work of the Corridor Alliance’s project committees as they work to inform, influence and provide opportunities for action. The combined influence of the Corridor Alliance acts to strengthen our community and celebrate its unique resources.

Visitors to the Grand Traverse area will be happy to discover that the area’s two main rail-trails are connected, a 26 mile trip from Acme to Suttons Bay, combining an enjoyable urban experience with a leisurely ride through the woods.

The 11-mile long TART Trail is a paved urban transportation corridor that offers easy accessibility to the Grand Traverse Bay, downtown Traverse City, neighborhoods, parks, beaches, hotels, restaurants, shopping, marinas, bike shops, miniature golf, museums and the zoo.  The trail is a favorite of families, visitors, bicyclists, runners, walkers, in-line skaters and commuters.

Stretching over 15 miles through Leelanau County, the Leelanau Trail connects Traverse City and Suttons Bay. The trail creates the perfect setting for both recreation and environmental education through a route that bends through rolling hills, lush forests, picturesque orchards, peaceful meadows, and an aquatic medley of streams, lakes and ponds.

Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance

Acknowledgements

The Flint River Corridor Alliance would like to thank the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and the Ruth Mott Foundation for their generous support in making this report possible. We would also like to thank all of the neighborhood and community groups that participated in the survey and have been involved in the group. Also, thank you to all the organizations that have been working in and with the Alliance.

Final Report Flint River Corridor Alliance Mission & Priority Setting Process (pdf)

Learn more about the projects taking place along the Flint River in the updated Flint Riverfront Restoration Plan. The overview includes information on the Hamilton Dam, Chevy Commons, Riverbank Park and much more.

Flint Riverfront Restoration Plan

 

 

 

 

mliveFLINT, MI — Flint Mayor Dayne Walling has been named a finalist in a national challenge for his policy solution for Chevy in the Hole.

Two of the honorary chairs of the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders) Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Delaware Governor Jack Markell announced on Wednesday, Nov. 19, the finalists of the group’s New Ideas Challenge. Mayor Dayne Walling was chosen from a competitive field as a finalist for his policy solution, Chevy Commons, a green remediation plan for the Chevy in the Hole brownfield along the Flint River, according to a news release from the City of Flint.

Walling’s plan would convert the former industrial site into an open community space with grassland, wetland, woodland and other natural environmental features that will attract resident and visitors for recreational activities while simultaneously cleaning the soil over time, according to the release. “It is an honor for our work in Flint at the new Chevy Commons site to be recognized by a forward-looking national network,” Walling said in a statement. “I want to give credit to our team and partners, who are all working hard to transform Flint and this project is a great example of our creative and inclusive approach.”

Walling was chosen as one of 16 finalists out of a total of 60 applicants. A winner in each of four categories — growing the economy for the future, expanding opportunity for all, making government work better, and best public private partnership — will be announced on Dec. 3, in Washington, D.C., according to the release.

The city partnered with the Genesee County Land Bank who provided needed assistance on the Chevy Commons project.

“The Genesee County Land Bank has worked with Mayor Walling and his team on the Chevy Commons project for several years,” said Doug Weilland, Executive Director of the Genesee County Land Bank in a statement. “We are proud of the fact that after many years there is now a plan in place to return this Brownfield property to productive use as green space and trail-ways for the enjoyment of the community. Its strategic location between Kettering University and downtown Flint makes this project even more important.”

Walling is a member of the NewDEAL, which is a network of pro-growth progressive state and local elected officials who are working to expand opportunity in the changing economy, according to the release. The Chevy Commons project is funded by a $1.6 million grant front the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the first phase of renovations – which will involve dumping dirt over the concrete and installing a parking area, walking paths and shrubs in about a third of the space.

A second grant of $1.9 million was awarded to the Genesee County Land Bank in September for the Chevy Commons for the second phase of plans for transforming the former General Motors property to a massive public park with walking paths. Phase two of the work involves the development of a Genesee Valley Trail extension through the site, including building connections to regional trail systems, enhancing Flint River views, improving access to the river for fishing and creating “flexible spaces for community use.”

mliveFLINT, MI — The city will use a new $1.9-million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the old General Motors’ Chevy in the Hole site and redevelop it into Chevy Commons, a massive park with nature trails and fishing spots. Mayor Dayne Walling announced the funding during a groundbreaking today, Sept. 26, for Oak Street Senior Apartments, using the new award as an example of the potential for more federal help here because of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program that Flint was selected for in January.

Strong Cities is a federal program that targets financially distressed cities, providing them with technical advice and expertise from the federal government. “These new funds will expand the area we can cover with trees and walking paths. We are making the right connections” to secure assistance through the Strong Cities program, Walling said. The Chevy Commons grant has actually been awarded to the Genesee County Land Bank, said federal officials at today’s ceremony. It will allow for work on the second phase of plans for transforming the former General Motors property to a massive public park with walking paths, called Chevy Commons.

Phase two of the work involves the development of a Genesee Valley Trail extension through the site, including building connections to regional trail systems, enhancing Flint River views, improving access to the river for fishing and creating “flexible spaces for community use,” according to the development plan. “A potential bridge will link Chevy Commons with Carriage Town and provide an ideal place for fishing in the Flint River,” the plan says. “A stretch of native plants and shrubs along the river provides an attractive natural area and visual connection across the Flint River Trail and to the open recreation areas to the north.”

City and Land Bank officials debuted plans for redeveloping the 60-acre Chevy Commons in April, saying the transformation could result in a destination park that would allow people to walk and bike here from all Flint’s neighborhoods. A $1.6-million grant from EPA is funding the first phase of the work, which includes the addition of soil to cover concrete slabs on the site, installation of a parking area, walking paths and shrubs in about one-third of the space.

Emergency manager Darnell Earley’s office issued a news release today, saying the Flint Strong Cities effort will focus on neighborhood stabilization, public safety and economic development. The Strong Cities team supporting Flint includes representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Department of Transportation; EPA; Department of Commerce; Department of Energy; U.S. Attorney’s Office; FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Earley’s statement says the leader of the Flint Strong Cities program is a HUD employee who has relocated to Flint and is now embedded full-time in City Hall.

mliveFLINT, MI – The vibrant sound of guitars, keyboard and drums overflowed Sunday, Aug. 10 out of Riverbank Park in downtown Flint, moving passersby and enthusiastic fans attending the last day of the annual Flint Jazz Festival. For 33 years, the festival presented by the Greater Flint Arts Council has filled the streets of downtown Flint with the smooth and funky sounds of modern and classic jazz.

The three-day festival is held in the park every August and brings in local and national jazz talent to bring out the joy and fun in downtown Flint. Many of the attendees, such as Flint resident Lawrence Ratliff, have been coming to the jazz festival since its first notes rang out. “I was introduced to jazz at a young age and have always had a love for it,” said Ratliff, as he waited for the first act to take the stage. “The festival is different compared to the early days. There were a lot more people attending back then.”

While many jazz lovers arrived early to set up their lawn chairs at prime seating spots along the riverfront, only around 100 people were at the festival when it started. As the jazz flowed, more people began to show up and find a spot to enjoy the music with friends and family. “I use to come out as a vendor and sell African clothes, but now I come out to enjoy the festival,” said Flint resident Reginald Terrell. “The jazz festival is a great thing for the city. It helps bring out the true spirit of Flint.”

The opening act, Flint based jazz band Smooth Operations, took to the stage in the early afternoon, playing their funky blend of Detroit and Chicago jazz. Lead vocalist Bernard Jackson appealed to the crowd as the band warmed up, stating his shared troubles being a Flint resident. “We’re in this together,” he said. “They raised my water bill just like they raised yours.” Being the first act was not without technical difficulties. A wiring issue hampered band guitarist Herb McGown’s first solo of the show.

By the next song, the issue was resolved and McGown nailed an amazing solo riff that dazzled the audience. Following The Smooth Operations, Greg Williams took the stage, followed by the People’s Jazz Band with headliner and three-time Grammy award winning jazz bassist Christen McBride set to take the stage around 7 p.m.

Admission to the festival is $3.

mliveFLINT, MI–With a sunnier forecast than expected on Saturday afternoon, Genesee County residents boarded their watercrafts to participate in the Flint River Flotilla.

Genesee County residents brought their canoes, kayaks, rafts, inner tubes, inflatable islands and more to the Flint River, getting into the water by the firehouse at N. Grand Traverse and Kearsley. They floated down the river until they arrived by the Mott Park Golf Course across from McLaren Hospital. From there, they could enjoy food and music and more or head home for the day.

Rebecca Fedewa, executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition and vice chair of the Flint River Corridor Alliance, said the alliance used to host a yearly triathlon in that same stretch of the river. After seeing how the athletic factor intimidated some, they decided to host a flotilla to be more inclusive to a wider range of people. “This is an event where you don’t need any special skills. All you need to be able to do is float in a tube,” Fedewa said. “It would be fun, easy, and accessible to people.”

Fedewa said that the Flint River has an unfairly bad reputation, but that it’s a strong resource for Genesee County residents. “It’s a great recreational amenity that flows right through our downtown and people are afraid of it,” she said. “We want to show people that they can get on the river and have a good time, and that it’s accessible and safe.” Fedewa estimated that nearly 100 people participated in the Flotilla, with 71 floating devices being in the water. Organizers thought that a bad weather forecast may have dissuaded some people from participating, even though the weather ended up being fine. Nearly 40 volunteers helped run the event.

“We’re doing it again next year, and we hope to have double the crowd next year,” Fedewa said. Flint resident Joseph Chambers came to the event with his brother, his sister-in-law, and some friends. As a group, they had a canoe, two kayaks, and a rubber raft. He said they try to get out on the water every other week, usually visiting Mott Lake, the Genesee Bell, and the Flint River from Irish Road down to Genesee Road.

“In Genesee County, especially when you’re outside of the cement park, it looks just like up north, and it’s right there,” Chambers said. “It takes us ten minutes to get to the water, and once you’re a little paddled down the way, you don’t see civilization. It’s just nature and trees.