Welcome to Flint. You wouldn’t know it from the outside looking in, but there was a time when our little city in The Mitten couldn’t go a decade without changing the world. We put the country in motion (it’s called Vehicle City for a reason), helped build the middle class, helped win wars, and led advances in civil rights. We’ve invented and innovated across industries. We’ve given the world exceptional artists, musicians, writers, actors and athletes – all from our little seat on the banks of the Flint River. Sure, we’ve had some hard times; lost our identity and purpose for a little while. We were down but never truly beaten. Many have counted us out. We’ve struggled, to put it plainly … but we’ve survived. Flint is a hardworking city, an optimistic city, and we are moving forward with exciting times ahead.
Today, Flint is being reimagined as a city for the future. In the last five years, we have seen ambitious new developments and renovations successfully completed with several more on the way. Here are a few of the major projects scheduled to begin or be completed in 2024-25.
Berston Field House
One of Flint’s most loved and community-oriented institutions is being rebuilt to be bigger and better. The dream for this expansion began five years ago as an idea of the late (and much-missed) Bryant Nolden in conjunction with the Berston Board. The project will cost a total of $30 million of which $22 million has already been raised with the help of the Mott Foundation and City of Flint American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 25, 2023 with completion of the initial expansion expected in April 2025. “Phase 1 is projected to take 18 months to finish and includes the construction of the new facility and outdoor amenities,” explains Berston Interim Executive Director, Valorie Horton. “At the end of Phase 1, we will move out of the original building to the new to make way for Phase 2 which is the renovation of the original building.” The new Berston Field House will offer nearly everything a person could hope for. The 57,000 sq. ft. building will house remodeled basketball courts and an elevated track, a boxing gym and training area, a dance studio, rooms for music and the arts, a bike room, community space and locker rooms. The surrounding land will feature outdoor pickleball and basketball courts, refurbished softball, football, soccer and lacrosse fields, a splash pad, playground, outdoor amphitheater, restrooms and more. It will be a mecca of activity in the city which fits into the very mission of Berston Field House. “Berston is here to fill the gaps in the community wherever they are,” Horton states. “It has always been a community center that is free or of little cost to the public. Berston supplies what is needed in the community and [the expansion]helps us continue to fulfill that role.”
“Berston supplies what is needed in the community and [the expansion]helps us continue to fulfill that role.”
Interim Executive Director, Berston Field House
Berston still needs your help. In order to obtain the $30 million needed for the project, donations and support from the community are welcomed. The Mott Foundation has promised to match donations up to $5 million and recently matched another $2 million donation from the City of Flint. To donate, please visit berston.org and click on the “Donate Today” tab, or you can donate in person at Berston Field House, located at 3300 N. Saginaw St. in Flint. Keep an eye out for future fundraising events.
Prahl College Center
Mott Community College
Built in 1971, the Prahl College Center is the focal point of the MCC experience. Housing administration and school services, every new and veteran student has walked through the building at the start and end of their educational journey. It’s essential to the experience at Mott and it’s past time for an upgrade. “The whole building is being renewed,” says Mott Chief Financial & Administrative Officer Lawrence Gawthrop. “It will be a complete remodel including the replacement of all mechanical systems.” Planning for the project began in 2018 with an estimated cost of $25 million that ballooned to $32.5 million post-pandemic. “We are seeking state funding to help us cover the cost and it has been granted. We are just waiting for a signature and the project can begin. We are all extremely excited!” adds Gawthrop. The Mott Foundation has pledged $12.5 million to support the project. The new Prahl Center will consolidate current departments and expand instructional space for students. “The main floor will be a one-stop shop for student services,” says Jason Wilson, Mott Vice President of Student Academic Success. “It will include the bookstore and every office needed to get started. The upper level will be our new tech hub featuring instructional space for cyber technology and a new artificial intelligence (AI) lab.” The building will offer the latest and greatest technology at all levels. The lower level will function as a “career” hub, set to train students on job readiness skills, resumé writing and more. It is planned to host business and product-pitch competitions, job fairs and training in promotion techniques such as marketing. “We envision it as a space where students can showcase what they have learned,” says Wilson. MCC hopes to get the project underway as soon as possible and foresees an opening in 2025.
“We are just waiting for a signature and the project can begin. We are all extremely excited!”
Chief Financial & Administrative Officer, MCC
If you want to be a part of the Mott experience and see the new Prahl for yourself, enrollment is underway for the winter semester – visit mcc.edu. Michigan residents may be eligible to attend MCC for free through the Michigan Reconnect program. Find out at mcc.edu/enroll/michigan-reconnect.
Genesee County Government Center
Today, if you need County government services, you have to visit one of four buildings: the Genesee County Administration Building, The Haley Building, The Genesee County Community Action Administration Building or the Burton Health Clinic. The current buildings are in need of repair, underutilized and functionally obsolete, energy inefficient and confusing for residents seeking County services. “The Genesee County Government Center Project will consolidate several departments, along with nearly 350 employees, into the old Citizens Bank tower in Downtown Flint,” writes Derek Bradshaw, Director of the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission. The building was purchased in 2021 for $8.5 million from the University of Michigan thanks to a Mott Foundation grant. According to Bradshaw, in May 2023, the Board of County Commissioners awarded a $26.6 million construction contract to local contractor E&L Construction for a total building renovation. Construction has already begun with completion expected in early 2025. The new facility will provide over $500,000 in operational cost savings per year to Genesee County and become a one-stop shop for services for Genesee County residents. The four unused buildings are planned for sale at the close of the project.
“The Genesee County Government Center Project will consolidate several departments, along with nearly 350 employees, into the old Citizens Bank tower in Downtown Flint.”
Director, Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission
Michigan State University Expansion
For nearly a decade, MSU has been a welcome presence in Flint. “We work with excellent community partners here,” states Dr. Aron Sousa, Dean of the College of Human Medicine. “Together, we’ve done a lot of research on how to address disparities in health care in the Flint community. Our research is done through federally-funded grants and we have held over $150 million in grants since we started.” All that work necessitates an expanding arsenal of professionals and eventually, the college outgrew its current home which forced some of its workforce into the neighboring Capitol Theatre building. It was time for a bigger space. “MSU reached out to us to see if we were interested in a new development,” says Joe Martin, Director of Development for the Uptown Reinvestment Corporation (URC). “We agreed to act as the project developer. We have a great relationship with MSU and a partnership of ten years. The expansion meets our plan of developing the health and wellness district downtown and bringing new individuals to the downtown setting through research and community outreach.” The new three-story, 40,000-sq. ft. building will allow MSU to expand programming, bringing in 18 principal investigators and nearly 200 additional jobs. MSU and URC collaborated on the design. “The new design pays homage to the current building (old Flint Journal building) without duplication,” says Dr. Sousa. “We lightened the building to make it more approachable to the community off the street,” adds Martin. “The first floor is intended for public interaction.” Dr. Sousa and MSU can’t wait to start their next chapter in Flint and the expansion allows them to hit the ground running. “The people of Flint are vibrant, intelligent and energetic. We are happy to continue working with them,” says Dr. Sousa. The project is expected to start next month and is estimated to be finished in the spring of 2025.
“The people of Flint are vibrant, intelligent and energetic. MSU is happy to continue working with them.”
Dr. Aron Sousa
Dean, MSU College of Human Medicine
Another Flint institution badly in need of an upgrade, the YMCA is extremely excited to be opening a new Downtown home in 2025 at Harrison and 3rd Streets. “We can’t wait to come downtown!” says Pam Bailey, YMCA Senior Director of Fundraising & Public Relations. “The old facility was built in 1962 for a different purpose. The design made sense at the time, but it was never family-oriented.” The new building is all about family. It will feature revised and new amenities such as a reimagined basketball court, indoor track, pool with splash pad, workout space, community rooms, kid zone and after-school programming. “The concept is much different than it was in the past,” says Bailey. “The dynamic of the family has changed and the new building and programming will take that into account. We are excited to provide an opportunity for parents to find some time of their own. They can come in, drop off their child at our kid zone and enjoy the facilities.” Bailey emphasizes that the children will be monitored by professionals trained in emergency medical aid, behavior management and more. The new YMCA will be part of the health and wellness district and will also house a Hurley physical therapy department. In conjunction, a new apartment building will be built alongside the YMCA offering 50 mixed-income units. Upon completion, the apartment building will also act as the new home of the Crim Fitness Foundation. The Flint YMCA will continue its current programs at the new location with additional programming coming in the future.
“The dynamic of the family has changed and the new building and programming will take that into account. We can’t wait to come downtown!”
Senior Director of Fundraising & Public Relations, YMCA
The organization has reached its funding goal for the new building but is looking to raise at least an additional $1 million for equipment such as exercise machines, desks, chairs, technology and more. To donate, visit flintymca.com and click the “Donate Now!” tab.
We’re on our way back! With these important projects currently in the works, the next two years will certainly be exciting times in Greater Flint!