Look inside the Hilton Garden Inn, a “missing piece” to downtown Flint resurgence

FLINT, Michigan -- The former Genesee County Savings Bank sat vacant in a prominent location downtown Flint for more than 20 years. This week, new life and purpose officially returned to the restored historic building when the Hilton Garden Inn officially opened.


General manager Jeff Stableford called the new hotel, “The final missing piece to downtown (Flint).” The hotel is 148,470 square feet with 101 guestrooms. The renovation combined modern architectural features while preserving some of the building’s original style.


“This new Hilton Garden Inn is a win-win for the city of Flint,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, in a press release. “Not only does it bring new jobs and restore a historic building that had been vacant for decades it also allows people to visit family and friends, conduct business and host events right in the heart of the city, where they can enjoy so many of the positive things Flint has to offer.”


The hotel will create 45 full-time and 15 part-time jobs and provide a convenient space for travelers visiting nearby universities and businesses and features a ground-floor coffee shop called The Federal Coffee House (see the menu), an Italian-American fusion restaurant called Sauce (reserve a table), and a rooftop lounge, Simmer, set to open in the spring of 2021. The coffee shop is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offers coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and other items.


The hotel entrance is off Kearsley Street and Buckham Alley. Next to the concierge desk, The Market is a shop with snacks and drinks. The lobby looks out at murals by Flint Public Art Project artists in Buckham Alley. There is also a computer in the main lobby with printing abilities to accommodate travelers.


The entrance to Sauce features the old vault door of the original bank, with marble tables and countertops and a bar with a view of the lights on Saginaw Street. The restaurant has a mezzanine overlooking the first floor with the space and plans to host live music.


“It’s an Italian kitchen with soul in it,” said Antwain Trimble, the executive chef. “We are bringing a little bit of everything to the table. We are working on our fish and spaghetti Flint meal that we always do, a cognac braised short ribs with polenta meal and zeppole the Italian donut, but creating a zeppole peach cobbler as a twist.”


Sauce’s menu incorporates Michigan-made ingredients in its entrees and side dishes. Dinner entrees range in price from a $15 pasta dish to a $28 ribeye steak, with gourmet pizzas and cocktails on the menu as well. Sauce is also open for breakfast seven days a week for guests and Flint residents.


“It will have a nice, chilled vibe where you can go and simmer down and enjoy a great view,” said Dan Wright, the food and beverage general manager, in a press release.


The hotel also includes meeting rooms and banquet spaces and a 14,810 square foot outdoor space that can be used for weddings and outdoor events.


“The revitalization of downtown Flint has taken a major step forward with the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn,” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, in a press release. “Not only does the hotel bring needed accommodations to downtown, it is bringing new jobs. In fact, it's a lightning rod for increased activity and spending in the area.”

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Read more articles by Jenifer Veloso.