Partner in The Harvard Group, Former Communications Researcher with Luntz Global Partners, and Current Harvard Graduate School Student
May 19, 2021
Ever since Flint Central closed in 2009, there have been rumors and buzz about how it would be repurposed, saved, or razed. One project was announced and then mysteriously disappear. First, Flint Powers Catholic was going to take it. Then, they were told no for reasons so unsavory we won’t repeat them here. Or maybe instead it was too expensive. Or perhaps the option they eventually chose was just more attractive. Who knows? It's all a big secret.
Then there was big project to raze most of the school, retaining some of the historical features. Those plans were not so secret. But they suddenly vanished, and no one’s talking. More speculation. But in the meantime a brand new Microsoft school appeared in the Cultural Center.
In the midst of all of this, an architectural firm and the Genesee County Historical Society engaged in conversation to see if the school was viable to be saved. It was. But still, nothing. Meanwhile, it was left to rot. Trophies lost, stolen, hidden or misplaced. No one knew, and again more secrets. Artifacts left in the building included a bass drum from the 40s, State Championship banners, and students' personal records.
Enter Ian Shetron. A Harvard graduate school student, Flushing native, and Powers Catholic alum, he led a team looking to enact their graduate learnings in to real world action. Armed with a serious capital stack of over 50 million, potentially they approached the Flint Board of Education. Surprisingly they received a warm response. That was until the federal government followed with 114 million in reported potential pandemic funding.
THEN, before that could happen, the Mott Foundation countered with an eye-popping half a billion potential capital stack. Not to save Central or its next door neighbor Whittier Junior High, but apparently to do away with both and build a brand new high school with accompanying middle school and multiple elementary. This proposal-- and off the chart as it is--was not received warmly by the Flint Board of Education.
So where does all of this leave the community? What does it portend for preservation and the community relative to the nearly 100 year old architectural gem of Flint Central? Back to Shetron and his crew. They believe that a multi - purpose facility is the perfect solution. It addresses a host of issues, and checks a lot of boxes. Can it be done in accord with the Mott proposal? Should it be? What about that half a billion capital stack? Could that be used best to rehabilitate the neighborhoods that actually filled Centrals hallways for nearly 90 years?
Fish takes a deep dive in to this topic with Ian in an important episode of “Fish and The Flint Chronicles.”