352 South Saginaw St. Has been under renovation for over a year. As it's opening day draws closer, Hilton is looking to hire students for day-to-day operations. (Santiago Ochoa)
352 South Saginaw St. Has been under renovation for over a year. As it's opening day draws closer, Hilton is looking to hire students for day-to-day operations.

Santiago Ochoa

Progress on New Hilton Garden Inn Being Made in Downtown Flint

March 18, 2020

The construction of the new Hilton Garden Inn on the corner of Kearsley and Saginaw Streets could mean new opportunities for UM-Flint students and others in the community.

The hotel is looking to employ approximately 70 people in positions such as waitstaff, housekeeping and management. UM-Flint students will be actively sought out by the hotel to fill many of these positions, providing an easy commute as well as an employment opportunity right around the corner from campus. Crescent Hotels will manage the building once construction is completed. 

“The goal is to have a diverse staff that is reflective of the community served. It makes sense that we look at hiring students while they are in school and at graduates. They will be considered for all positions including management,” said Elaine Redd, a member of the Flint Chamber of Commerce who is helping to manage PR for the hotel.

Utilizing anywhere from 65 to 75 workers a day, the project to renovate the 100-year-old building started last fall and is slated to be completed before this summer, aiming to be open in time for Back to the Bricks and the Crim Festival of Races events. 

The project is part of a larger trend of development occurring in Flint in an effort to revitalize the community. “We believe the transformation of the historic Genesee County Savings Bank into a modern Hilton Garden Inn will symbolize that the revitalization of Flint is underway,” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, which is funding the construction.

The interior has gone through major renovations, including the removal of over one million pounds of material, such as old water-damaged plaster, drywall, glass and steel.

Many of the accommodations that are planned for the hotel have required reshaping the floor plans and spaces of the existing structure, all the way from the basement to the top floor. Much of it resembles a building in the middle of prep-work for total deconstruction rather than a major renovation job. 

Demolition in the basement has taken more than three months to complete but has allowed for the installation of new wiring, plumbing and water systems. Space for staff facilities and even a fitness room for guests have been made. 

The interior design of the lobby will resemble the Italian Renaissance Revival, blending with the original Art Deco that was installed in the 1940s. While there was significant water damage to the building’s original plaster during it’s vacancy, some of it was saved and is being restored.

Other original designs being saved include the authentic steel staircases and two-story-tall glass windows overlooking Kearsley Street. Glass work along the second-story balcony above the first floor are also being preserved with their original floral imagery.

One new accommodation is the construction of a restaurant in the main floor lobby. This will cover approximately 2,550 square feet and will include a bar and cafe located along Kearsley Street.

Attached to the restaurant will be the kitchen, where wait staff will enter and exit through the old bank’s multi-ton vault door, keeping the charm of the building’s former use and making the hotel unique from others.

The second floor of the hotel will be used as conference space for meetings, taking up 4,600 square feet. Each conference room can be configured according to their guests’ needs and will include break-out rooms for individual sessions.

Floors three through 11 will be used for guest rooms, totaling 101 in all. Rooms will vary by sizes offered, ranging from cozy single-bed queen rooms to spacious double-king beds overlooking downtown. 

A 1,500 square foot rooftop bar will also be installed so guests can enjoy a drink and the view overlooking the city.

However, one of the biggest renovations being undertaken is a complete overhaul of the entrance, located on the corner of Kearsley and Beech Streets. After completely reshaping Buckham Alley, space was made to install a brand new sidewalk and driveway where guests will be able to use a valet service when they arrive. 

Much of the corner will be a dedicated “greenspace,” named Buckham Square, and will be open for the public to enjoy.  

The main parking for the hotel will be across the street in the Rutherford parking structure, costing guests $5 a day–a cheaper rate compared to other parking options around downtown. 

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