The new Urban Alternatives House on Eddy Street in Flint.
The saga of the Urban Alternatives House continues, but this time there's some good news. If you remember, the project originally involved restoring an abandoned house at 519 Garland Street in Carriage Town with funding from the Genesee County Land Bank, federal neighborhood stabilization grants, and UM-Flint.
The goal was to create classroom space for university students, the community and visiting school children, according to the project website. The house would maximize energy efficiency and introduce sustainable, innovative ways to manage energy and water use. In the lot adjacent to the house a vegetable garden would be planted to encourage more active and healthy living and provide a demonstration site for urban agriculture.
The original home of the Urban Alternatives House (left) and the partially restored Jackson Hardy House (right) on Garland Street in Carriage Town.
"Special programs geared for K-12 students will be presented at the UAH," said UM-Flint Associate Professor Richard Hill-Rowley. "The focus of these programs will be on the science aspects of energy use and conservation. A premise behind these programs is the need to introduce ideas about climate change to these students and use the site to explore ideas of sustainability, walkable communities, and locally grown food."
The house at 519 Garland Street around 1900.
This empty block was home to the planned Urban Alternatives House and the Jackson Hardy House. The empty lot next to the brick house in the background to the right is the former site of Third Avenue Fish and Chips.
Now, Professor Hill-Rowley has a new location and additional funding for the Urban Alternatives House on Eddy Street, near the old Central High School. “We sort of regrouped for a while and we had a lot of community support and I was anxious to see if we could still continue with the idea,” he said. “And this house was available through the (Genesee County) Land Bank and so it’s a different place. It’s a little further away from campus, but not that much.
“It’s a house that would do what we needed to do.”
Shaun Byron of mlive reports:
The objective of the program is to teach sustainable and green living, support environmentally friendly renovations for Genesee County Land Bank Properties and promote neighborhood stability.
The total development cost is $429,840. Two-thirds of the funding for the project comes from the land bank, with another third coming from the university via foundations.
“The house is still owned by the land bank and we are leasing the space. Because it’s federal funding, they have rules about the way they can lease the house,” Hill-Rowley said.