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Flint, MI—After two decades of vacancy, an apartment building in Flint’s Carriage Town neighborhood has new tenants.
“I think five families have already moved in,” said Glenn Wilson, president and CEO of Communities First, Inc., the nonprofit developer of the newly renovated Georgia Manor Apartments.
“And the rest are scheduled for by the end of the month,” added Essence Wilson, CFI’s chief strategy officer, to a small tour group on Jan. 10.
The 26-unit complex features 15 two-bedroom apartments and 11 one-bedroom apartments.
Twenty of the 26 apartments are restricted to households with an income at or below 30-80% of the area’s median income, and the other six are being offered at market rate.
As the tour began, Glenn Wilson waved to a child in a bright red t-shirt who was looking out onto the building’s courtyard from the sliding glass door of a first floor apartment.
The child smiled and waved back at Wilson and the tour group before disappearing back into his family’s new home.
The courtyard itself is past a fob-entry door and a new ADA compliant lift. It also features heated pavement to melt the mid-January ice and snow.
The surrounding facade has many straight lines and small, rectangular inlaid glass details adorning its brown brick—charms leftover from the 1966 building’s original design.
“Three years ago is when we purchased it,” Glenn Wilson said as the tour group shivered slightly in the late afternoon wind. “And it was just vacant for over 20 years. I mean, everything was just gutted out all the way to the studs.”
Both Wilsons led guests to one of the complex’s two-bedroom units, showing off the progress a little over a year of renovation can achieve. (Georgia Manor Apartments’ groundbreaking ceremony was in Oct. 2020.)
The apartment was open concept, and the tour group was greeted by light taupe walls with white trim and a large kitchen of dark wood cabinets and shiny new appliances. Daylight streamed in from a balcony area facing the building’s south side, and two carpeted bedrooms flanked a full bath of finishes similar to the kitchen.
“I never get tired of picking finishes,” Essence Wilson said smiling, turning on and off lights as she guided guests through the apartment.
Though the whole building is already leased, Wilson said Flint has an ongoing need for affordable housing options like Georgia Manor Apartments.
“So just in the last, not even quite a year, you had Richfield Court and Sunset Village that closed, right?” she said. Both Richfield Court and Sunset Village were condemned and shuttered in 2021, and both totaled over 100 units each.
“So you have to replace that, but in addition to just replacing it, there’s a need for more,” she said.
Wilson added that she and her team recognize many Flint residents favor single-family detached homes over apartment buildings, a comment which has been brought up during the approval process for other Communities First, Inc. developments in the past.
But, she said, that doesn’t mean affordable rental units should be excluded from Flint’s housing stock.
“Diversified housing options retain and attract people to our community,” Wilson said. “There have been a number of folks who have elected to move to other communities because they could not find quality rental housing (in Flint).”
Communities First will be holding a virtual grand opening for Georgia Manor Apartments in February, but a final date for that event has not yet been determined.