The top priorities for commercial demolition this summer for the Genesee County Land Bank include a burned-out apartment complex and abandoned trailer park as well as buildings that used to house a laundromat, hair salon and tire shop.
The commercial properties are in addition to more than 1,000 residential homes set to come down this summer and fall, according to Michele Wildman, executive director of the Genesee County Land Bank.
Not all the funding has yet been secured for the targeted commercial properties, but all have been given priority status because they are considered blighted public nuisances. Those top priority properties are:
- A former commercial laundry facility at 1001 Martin Luther King, it sits just north of 7th Avenue just across from Avenue B.
- An abandoned gas station and hair salon at 902 Stevenson St., it is the only project that is fully funded and already gone out for bids. The smaller building is at the corner of Flushing Road and has been vandalized multiple times.
- A dilapidated former tire and auto repair shop at 1604 Martin Luther King Ave., it sits at the intersection with Welch Boulevard near Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church.
- The former Greenview Manor at 817 N. Stevenson Street, now is a burned out shell of a building. Built in 1968, the building also previously housed a Flint Police Department Mini Station.
- Shady Acres trailer park at 4615 Western Road, it has been owned by the Genesee County Land Bank since 2015. Littered with trash and graffiti, local residents have long lobbied for its demolition.
A variety of funding sources come together to make demolitions possible, including dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, City of Flint, Community Development Block Grants, and Michigan State Housing Development Authority.
“The City has their priorities for demos,” Wildman said, “so we have to overlay those with the grant criteria on every area of the city in which we work, and some funding can’t be used in certain areas,” she said. There is months of work before these structures can come be demolished, she said. For a structure to be considered blighted, it has to be seen as a public nuisance per code or ordinance, age and physical conditions or rendered ineffective from being cut off from utilities.
The Land Bank is demolishing about 30 percent more homes than last year — and demolitions are up 342 percent from 2002, Wildman said.
“It looks and feels safer in the neighborhood,” said lifelong Flint resident Marsay Wells-Strozier. “No one wants to come to a place that looks dangerous, looks dilapidated or broken down, and you don’t know if there are squatters inside — but once that is all cleared away, you feel safer and you really get to see the beautification of the neighborhood.”
Wells-Strozier — founder of the Center for Higher Educational Achievement, a not-for-profit on Flint’s eastside — said she’s directly seen the impact in her neighborhood. Three of the five homes near her were knocked down and helped clear blight from the neighborhood, she said.
“Now we’re working with Land Bank to do some beautification projects here,” she said. “With cleaning up these areas of blight, you get a real vision that the city is changing for the better.”