FLINT, Michigan—In a somewhat unusual combination of public and private sector collaboration a major economic development project targeting Flint’s eastside also has evolved into a major neighborhood cleanup.
Demolition of the former Kirkwood Community mobile home park is set to be leveled by the Genesee County Land Bank with a grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. It is one of six longtime community eyesores that recently have been cleaned up or will be within the next few months, at a total cost of $3.1 million.
This project comes with a unique twist: It is made possible in part through a private business donation: Phoenix Investors—the company behind the planned redevelopment of the neighboring former Delphi site on Davison Road—gave the Genesee County Land Bank $50,000 to help fund the effort.
Michele Wildman, executive director of the Genesee County Land Bank, called the donation from a private business uncommon, and one that paves the way for future investment in the area. Kirkwood is located just across Averill Avenue from the 550,000 square foot former Delphi East Flint.
The planned demolition is a relief to resident Phil Hubbard, who said he’s sick of being “walking distance from this ugly blight.”
The site is littered with trash and graffiti as well as shells of mobile homes left to rot.
“It is a major problem in their neighborhood. There’s not only blight and very unpleasant to look at, there are also safety issues,” 4th Ward Flint city councilwoman Kate Fields said at a townhall meeting this fall.
Kurt Jensen, senior vice president of acquisitions and leasing for Phoenix Investors, answered community questions at the town hall and delivered the $50,000 gift to the Genesee County Land Bank.
Phoenix Investors purchased the site for $3.15 million. Originally constructed in 1960, the former Delphi building has up to 42 foot ceilings, 17 loading docks and a number of overhead cranes—and needs extensive renovations.
Jensen said the property will be redeveloped in phases, a requirement for access to federal government funds. Construction is expected to start in 2018 to refurbish the old site, build spaces for new businesses, and create residential housing.
“This is great news for the city of Flint,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “The former Delphi Flint East is one of the largest vacant buildings remaining in Michigan. It’s exciting that Phoenix Investors is making a major investment to redevelop this site and contribute to the city’s resurgence.”
Demand is especially high in the Flint market for warehouse and distribution facilities. The market vacancy rate is exceptionally low at 1.7 percent for buildings over 100,000 square feet.