Grand Traverse Greenway to help pave the way for economic development in Flint

A project 10-plus years in the making, the Grand Traverse Greenway — which will complete Flint’s portion of the Iron Belle Trail that extends from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula — is back on track after the City Council approved the $525,000 sale to acquire the property.

The 3-mile paved trail will complete the 18-mile path connecting the Flint River and Genesee Valley trails, which lead cyclists and walkers to a multitude of community assets including Chevy Commons, downtown Flint, the Flint Cultural Center as well Genesee Valley Mall, Stepping Stones Falls, Bluebell Beach, and more.

“Completion of this trail helps to celebrate the beauty of Flint. Walking and biking trails are building blocks for a happy, healthy community — plus this project will be a major asset for other ongoing economic development efforts,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in a statement.

While completion of the trail is welcome news for local hiking and biking enthusiasts, it also sets up avenues for economic and development opportunities.

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a $30 million effort funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, seeks to create better housing alternatives for residents of Atherton East. As part of that funding, $4.5 million is earmarked for Critical Community Improvements, which will help facilitate an additional $21 million in support from other City of Flint partners. This will help pave the way for more neighborhood revitalization including commercial and residential demolition, commercial facade improvement, housing rehabilitation, vacant lot reuse, placemaking, park improvements as well as the construction of the Grand Traverse Greenway Trail.

Near the start of the trail, the City and Flint Housing Commission with Housing development partner Norstar will develop mixed-income housing around Windiate playground and along South Saginaw Street.

The City of Flint’s acquisition of the 47-acre property previously owned by CSX, which is located on the banks of the Flint River, in the area of Pengelly and Hemphill roads to Kearsley and Grand Traverse streets, will complete the project. It’s been a long time coming, with original funding received in 2009.

“This project has been 10-plus years in the making. We are ecstatic to have reached an agreement with CSX. The trail, once completed, will leverage more than $50 million of neighborhood improvements and development. This offers a non-motorized option for residents and visitors to explore our city and see all Flint has to offer,” Suzanne Wilcox, director of the Department of Planning and Development at the City of Flint, said in a statement.

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021 with completion estimated for 2023.

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.

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