Chevy Commons in Flint to become Michigan’s newest state park

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FLINT, Michigan (WJRT) – Flint gets its first state park.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other officials announced Wednesday that the former Chevy Commons site along the Flint River between Chevrolet Avenue and Grand Traverse Street would be turned into Michigan’s 104th state park.

The site was home to a sprawling 60-acre auto manufacturing complex known as the Chevy in the Hole before the buildings were demolished. The flint chiefs have been working for several years to transform the site into a recreational use.

Whitmer on Wednesday proposed an investment of $ 26.2 million to develop recreational options at Chevy Commons, including a potential amphitheater and a canoe / kayak launch pad. The park will expand to connect the University of Michigan-Flint, Kettering University, the Flint Farmers’ Market, the Flint Cultural Center Campus, and the Iron Belle Trail.

“This new park in Flint is a multigenerational investment in the community that will support small businesses, create jobs and provide a space for people to enjoy with friends and family,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Plans for the park are still in their infancy and no timeline for the project has been announced. Much of the funding would come from the $ 250 million fund Whitmer proposed to improve and maintain Michigan’s existing state park system using COVID-19 relief money.

The Michigan legislature must approve the park’s spending before Chevy Commons plans go ahead. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources would manage and maintain the site like all other state parks and recreation areas.

“Reallocating this land for outdoor recreational space will improve the health and quality of life for residents while giving Flint families the opportunity to enjoy nature,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “A state park in Flint is a beacon and will have broad environmental, economic and social impacts through the transformation of key lands within the city. “

The use of Chevy Commons automobile manufacturing began in the early 1900s, when William Durant of Flint began building motor cars on the property. His business – along with Buick, Chevrolet and others he bought – became General Motors.

Over time, 17 manufacturing and assembly buildings on the site became known as the Chevy in the Hole. At its peak, 8,000 workers were employed there.

The United Auto Workers’ sit-down strike of 1937 took place at the site. Chevrolet designed the Corvette at Flint and its prototype was built at Chevy Commons in 1953.

After a decline in the auto industry that lasted for decades, the last Chevy in the Hole factories closed in the 1990s and building demolition continued until 2004.

As General Motors went bankrupt, the town of Flint obtained ownership of the property in 2013. Kettering University uses 22 acres of the site as a testing ground for automotive technology.

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