My story on the Carriage Town neighborhood in Flint is up on The New York Time's website, along with several amazing photos like the one above by Fred R. Conrad. It will run in the paper edition on Thursday. Here's an excerpt:
In a worldwide recession, development projects with more than $47 million in public and private financing are in progress or recently completed in the 30-square-block Carriage Town area, including the conversion of the derelict Berridge Hotel into lofts and the ongoing renovation of the long-vacant Durant Hotel into 93 apartments and commercial space. There are even plans for a neighborhood grocery store.Read the complete story here.
But there’s no denying that Carriage Town is a work in progress, and that those who call it home must deal with challenges like speculators, abandoned houses and lack of code enforcement by the cash-strapped city.
While it is racially and economically diverse, there are few African-American homeowners. Many empty houses sit beside pristinely restored homes. Residents also remember AutoWorld and other once-promising redevelopment failures immortalized two decades ago in Michael Moore’s film “Roger & Me.”
Ken Van Wagoner owns two houses and runs the Good Beans Cafe, which has served as the primary gathering spot for Carriage Town residents since it opened in 2000.“I’m excited about all the new projects, but I’m also a little wary,” he said. “I can’t help wondering if it will all last. In the same breath, I want Carriage Town to succeed more than anybody.”