In three years, the University Avenue region stretching from downtown Flint past Kettering University to McLaren Regional Medical Center and extending to the Flint River has undergone rapid improvements. Much of this work has been accomplished as a result of coalition of partners known as the University Avenue Corridor Coalition (UACC).
Since its founding by more than a dozen community members in 2012, the UACC has grown in membership and includes organizations, businesses and individuals committed to creating a healthy, vibrant and safe region in central Flint that connects the city’s healthcare, education and expanding downtown resources through blight-free neighborhoods, walkable corridors and family-friendly activities and events that promote health and wellness.
“The UACC has been a driving force in the ongoing revitalization of the University Avenue region by organizing community cleanups, facilitating partnerships with residents and organizations in the city, helping secure neighborhood stabilization grants and providing fun, family-friendly activities that benefit the entire community,” said Jack Stock, Kettering University director of External Relations and member of the UACC. “We still have significant work to do to accomplish our shared vision of a vibrant, walkable University Avenue region, but we also want to celebrate the work that has been done so far.”
To commemorate the group’s anniversary, a University Avenue Corridor Celebration and Annual Meeting is planned from 6-8 p.m Tuesday, November 10, at Kettering University in the Campus Center building. The event will include a reception, poster presentation, interactive placemaking activities and keynote speech by Gary Heidel, Chief Placemaking Officer for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
The event also will feature a panel discussion that includes David Lossing, University of Michigan-Flint director for government relations; Nayyirrah Shariff, community organizer and Mott Park resident; Adam Moore, Flint city planner; Margaret Kato, executive director for Genesee County Habitat for Humanity; and Isaiah Oliver, vice president of community impact for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and president of the Flint Community Schools Board of Education.
“We are excited to host a dynamic gathering of individuals who offer significant insight on the topics of community building and placemaking,” Stock said.
The UACC region extends from McLaren Hospital on the west to the University of Michigan-Flint on the East. It is bounded by Hurley Medical Center and Whaley Children’s Center on the north and the Flint River on the south. The organization’s mission is to transform the region into an attractive and crime-free community that is conducive to sustainable development. Members of the organization have worked on the following initiatives:
Addressing blight and crime hotspots
Improving community health
Stabilizing land use
Establishing leisure and recreational areas
Creating and enhancing communication links
Increasing community education opportunities
Along with Kettering University and the organizations on the region’s borders, other members of the UACC include Carriage Town Ministries -- an anchor partner whose passion for revitalization of the corridor has been a model for other members -- Powers Catholic High School, Shelton Tire and Service and Hoffman’s Deco Deli and Café.
Since its founding, the organization has organized community cleanups, engaged and partnered with neighborhood associations to implement crime prevention and blight elimination strategies and helped secure significant federal funding for the region. The UACC, with Kettering University acting as the fiduciary, received a $1 million community engagement grant from the Department of Justice in 2014. The UACC also received a $150,000 grant from the Center for Disease Control to implement health and wellness and community education initiatives in 2014.
Kettering University has razed dozens of blighted properties in the region since 2013. The University also opened an Einstein Bros. Bagels at University and Chevrolet avenues, completed a historic renovation of Atwood Stadium in the heart of the region and announced plans to partner with a local businessman to open a Jimmy John’s restaurant at the corner of University Avenue and Grand Traverse.
The UACC’s founding belief in the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concept has also spurred cleanup initiatives that have made the region easier for law enforcement to patrol and easier for neighbors to keep view their surroundings.
The UACC meets regularly, continuously seeks new partnerships and seeks out grant and funding opportunities to implement programs that will enhance the region for all residents.
“In a short amount of time, the UACC has made a tangible impact on our community,” Stock said. “The organization is a fantastic example of the capability of individuals in a community collaborating positively with a singular goal -- to help create a thriving city of Flint.”