Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Good


If anyone has been downtown in the past 36 hours, they most likely saw evidence of at least one of the fires.

The fires, attributed to arsonists, seem to be targeted exclusively at abandoned homes in the Carriage Town, and Grand Traverse neighborhoods. Many are claiming that they are being set in response to the recent layoffs to the fire and police force.

Neighborhood groups are organizing to board up at-risk structures, and holding neighborhood watches for the evenings ahead.

Keep working together guys!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Tradition?

You would have thought that people were coming to Blackstone's for years. On March 17th (Saint Patrick's Day for those of you that have been living under a blarney stone) the masses came downtown, to wear, eat and drink green.

Blackstone's, which was originally planned to open last St. Paddy's Day, has been counting down the days since it's grand opening last April. Evidently people got the hint, because patrons arrived ready to celebrate at 7 A.M. By noon the place was packed both indoors and outdoors, and by the time the parade went by....well it seemed like the patio was having a pretty good time.

Frankly, I didn't realize until now that Flint had a Saint Patrick's Day Parade.

Blackstone's wasn't the only place downtown to enjoy (or cope with) a surge in green clad customers. Most of the bars and restaurants that I saw were filling up by 3 p.m. In fact, the only place that may have saw a drop in patronage was the university.... if just for the afternoon

What I loved the most, however, was that people somehow seemed to know that downtown was the place to be this year. Everyone from the student crowd, to the professionals. Perhaps it was the lure of being able to drink at several places without having to get behind the wheel. Or maybe it was the lure of some shiny new establishments, but I would like to think that this attitude grows, and pretty soon, a green beer at Blackstone's will be a must for every Flint area Irishman, even if they are only Irish for the day.

Monday, March 15, 2010


If I had to choose one event that really summed up downtown Flint, it would be ArtWalk.
Sure, "Back To The Bricks" celebrates our automotive history, and "The Crim Festival of Races" has been a flagship event for decades, but ArtWalk quietly, and creatively honors what downtown is to me.
12 months a year, on the second Friday of each month, downtown venues open their walls to artists, and their doors to visitors. While it is enjoyable even in the depths of winter, ArtWalk seems to gain a little extra oomph during the warm months. This past Friday's certainly started the season with a bang. Along with the great visual art on display at GFAC and Buckham, The Lunch Studio, Churchill's and Good Beans Cafe all hosted musical performances. Top it off with the yummy hors d'oeuvres (not to mention the beer and wine) available at several of the stops, as well as the gorgeous weather, and you had a night that couldn't be beat.
Did anyone else make it out?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Movin' On Up!

An exciting rendering of the hubbub and traffic patterns bound to take place once the Durant opens!

After 30 sad, empty years, the Durant Hotel (now simply "The Durant") finally seems to be nearing it's re-opening!

A recent update from MTH management shows some renderings, a breakdown of the rents by apartment number, and what appears to be an opening date of August 15! MTH is advertising 93 units, a mix of 1 and 2 bedroom units, all with one bathroom, running from $550 to $950 a month. Oddly enough, none of this is advertised on the Durant's website. Instead, you have to go right to the manager's site. Good thing I am posting a link!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Not So Small Achievement

¡Feliz cumpleaƱos!

In the whirlwind of the past few months, I completely forgot to recognize a victory in our downtown community. On February 9th, "Soyla's Mexican Cuisine" quietly celebrated completing it's first year of being open for business. Soyla's has ran into a few roadblocks, with mixed reviews, a menu that changes frequently, and hours that can be even more erratic, but with nearly half of all small businesses unable to survive even their first year, Soyla must be doing something right.

I actual was able to go to Soyla's on opening day. I had heard that the restaurant was to be opening when the Wade Trim building in which it is located finally was completed. However, I had heard little more about it, until I happened across a copy of the Journal (then printing 7 days a week) and noticed the headline declaring Soyla's to be open for business. I immediately grabbed a friend and walked there from campus. I remember the food being good, the dining room being full, and the staff being frenzied. What I remember most though, is just the excitement of simply being there. I'm not sure if it was just the Flint nerd in me coming out or what, but I couldn't help but absorb an energy as I ate my enchiladas while looking out of the giant windows at the Capital marquee. I hoped that this would become a very normal experience for downtowners.

Soyla's was the first of this recent string of eateries downtown, and I have to give it props for that. I have since eaten there several times, and like many patrons, I have had mixed experiences. However, I continue to support Soyla and her restaurant because of the delicious food, Soyla's hospitality, and her commitment to the city center.

Here is a recent review of "Soyla's Mexican Cuisine" from fellow blogger Bob Barnett, who's food blog Eating Flint reviews restaurants all over the Flint metro area.

So whether you have been to Soyla's or not, I encourage you to try it, or try it again, and when you are there, feel free to give Soyla your feedback, and maybe a verse of "Happy Birthday"

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Promise

They like us! They really like us!

Downtown Flint has been named as a "Downtown of Promise" by the state. But what does that mean? According to the Flint Journal, the DDA is eligible for about $40,000 to create a plan for the future. Larry Flint, the director of the DDA, states that “It will sort of be a blueprint as to the kinds of businesses that we need to go after to fill the holes as far as becoming a comprehensive downtown area”

Many people (Ahem....Mlive commentators) see this as a waste of money, however, a plan could be a nice new alternative for a city who isn't known for it's organized approach. For instance, Five restaurants have opened in the past two years. While this is certainly a victory, does the DDA plan on having a bar and grill based commercial center? One would think that a professional study would encourage an emphasis on attracting retail.

That being said, what type of retail would you want? We already have a handful of retail options downtown, are we doing enough to support them in the meantime?