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Topic: The north end Black "Wall Street" begins?

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El Supremo

City council sends $125K to undisclosed north Flint building project
Updated 3:27 PM; Posted 3:22 PM
Gallery: Demolition underway at site for North Flint Food Market co-op grocery store

By Oona Goodin-Smith ogoodins@mlive.com
FLINT, MI - The Flint City Council voted to send $125,000 in grant funds to support the purchase of a building on the city's north side.

Neither the building's exact use nor its location have been made public, but the structure will benefit the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation's development plan near Pierson and Clio roads, said Flint Department of Planning and Development Director Suzanne Wilcox.

Wilcox's team has reviewed and approved North Flint Reinvestment Corporation's plan, but details on the project must be kept under wraps to avoid competition, said the organization's president, the Rev. Reginald Flynn.

Addressing council at a meeting on Monday, Jan. 22, Flynn said he asked that specifics on the project remain confidential until after the building is purchased. In the past, when he allowed the public in on planning meetings for his community grocery store - a part of the Flint pastor's larger vision for developing the city's north side - competitors from the newly-minted Hamady grocery attended the meeting, who later attempted to buy the same land sought by Flynn and obtain funding from Flynn's backers.

"Our information was used against us," Flynn told the council. "So, our desire was to not to avoid being transparent, but really recognizing the fact that people were taking advantage of us, and we had trusted individuals - one, in particular, being a potential partner. And they used our information against us, in fact, sought to secure funding from the funding sources that had already been accessed by us."

Potential uses for the facility may include a health clinic or a credit union, Flynn told the council, adding that the purchase is "really time-sensitive."

Flynn declined to comment further on the project to MLive-The Flint Journal. City officials provided few public details about the project.

Flint council sends unspent HUD dollars to publicly undisclosed project
Wilcox said no formal application has been submitted to the city for the reprogrammed grant funds but Flynn submitted a letter to the city detailing the redevelopment project.

"There's some interest in a couple of buildings in that area, and like in any market transaction, there's other interest in those buildings ... so we're not looking to make any information available that could potentially harm that deal," Wilcox told the council last week, adding that the development is not for the purchase of a grocery store building.

Voting 7-2 on Monday night, council approved the resolution to redirect $125,000 to the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation - part of the reprogramming of $442,000 in unspent Community Development Block Grant dollars.

The federal grant program through the United States Housing and Urban Development Department "provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs," according to its website.

The council also allocated $200,000 to the Flint Fire Department for what EMS Coordinator Carrie Edwards-Clemons called a "desperately-needed" new fire truck, and $117,000 to the city's Economic Development Corporation for roof repairs at the Oak Business Center.

The financial decision was council's first since Flint's state oversight board loosened its grip on the city's purse strings earlier in the day. Hours before the council meeting, State Treasurer Nick Khouri signed a repeal of an emergency manager order that mandated state review of financial moves made by the mayor or council.

For the first time in seven years, Flint's local officials are in control of the city's daily finances and government decisions.

Eighth Ward Councilman Allan Griggs and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Kate Fields voted against the resolution, calling for more city review before awarding federal grant dollars.

"We need to have our citywide advisory committee or independent body review these applications for re-use of these program dollars because that prevents any view of favoritism or political payoffs," Fields said, encouraging those with concerns over the city's spending to contact HUD.

Several residents also voiced their concern over the transparency in allocating grant dollars during council's public comment.

"If you are re-shifting federal dollars to organizations in the city of Flint, I have an organization in the city of Flint," resident Joyce Wilson told the council. "I have been beautifying properties for 12 years ... If you re-shift money, you might want to consider the people who live in Flint. You need to help the people who live in Flint ... not just the non-profits just because they have a certain religious affiliation and political affiliation."

The majority of the council, however, put trust in Wilcox's review and allocation of the dollars.

"If Suzanne and her staff have dotted their i's and cross their t's, if it's what qualifies and what they recommend, I'll follow that," said First Ward Councilman Eric Mays. "[The North Flint Reinvestment Corp.] has been able to mobilize community partners, and the block club leaders in the First Ward support their co-op. I know people that I represent that have supported that and encourage me to support it."

Second Ward Councilman Maurice Davis echoed Mays' trust in the administration, adding that "it seems like we're pulling teeth every time we're trying to do something on the north end."

"We have to get to the place of moving the whole city forward. ... the city is broke, but it's not every resident," Davis said. "I'm doing this because of the residents. I'm not forgetting who put me in this chair. We sometimes have to rob Peter to pay Paul."

Last spring, Flynn requested $150,000 in city funding for his north end grocery store, but the council was only able to give him $75,000, said Seventh Ward Councilwoman Monica Galloway.

"We gave them what we could, and we could look for more," Galloway said. "I thought we walked away from that meeting saying that if that grocery store piece came up, we would look for more."

According to Pierson Road Corridor revitalization plan on the North Flint Reinvestment's website, the organization looks to add a youth business academy, aquaponics center, early learning center, grocery store and several residential buildings to the landscape on Pierson Road.

A search committee has also been started to help find a general manager for the store -- expected to employ 50-60 residents -- as part of the next steps moving forward.

Demolition of a building on the property slated for the organization's intended co-op grocery store began in September.

In 2015, the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation opened the Eagle's Nest Academy on the site of former Selby Elementary School.
Post Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:46 pm 
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El Supremo

No public oversight and no formal application. Just send a letter and the city gives you money!

HUD monitoring usually occurs every March and April, but the residents will never know the results because HUD helps Flint hide the findings. And no individual audit over Major Grants in years.
Post Tue Jan 23, 2018 5:52 pm 
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El Supremo

PDF]Request for Developer Qualifications (RFQ) - Genesee County Land ...
Jan 3, 2018 - development would include a mix of housing types and potentially ... The Genesee County Land Bank and City of Flint seek developers for the property at 1920 Pierson Road,. Flint, Michigan, 48504. The vacant 4.6-acre parcel is located at the corner of Pierson Road and Cloverlawn Drive, in the northwest ..
Post Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:52 pm 
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