The former Perry drugstore building at South Saginaw and Second streets will soon house three new businesses in downtown Flint, with more on the way. Renovations began last fall at the single-story building, which will contain a total of six retail units once construction is completed in March.
The project will help meet a demand for smaller storefront space in downtown and bring an empty building back into productive use, said Tim Herman, president of the nonprofit developer, Uptown Reinvestment Corp. (URC). Once renovations of the roughly 9,000-square-foot building are complete and the spaces fully leased, the $1.4 million project will create about 15 full-time jobs with an average hourly wage of $15, according to projections.
“The newly renovated retail space provides viable options for the growing entrepreneurial community and small businesses that will serve the needs of downtown residents and workers as well as visitors to the area,” Herman said. “Combining this new space with existing spaces within the Capitol Theatre and along Saginaw Street will help create a critical mass of shopping options downtown.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. in October 2018 approved a $200,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant for the project. The Flint City Council also approved tax incentives for the property under the state’s Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) for 12 years.
Tenants for three of the six storefronts have already been secured:
- ELGA Credit Union branch location
- Buckham Gallery, an artist-led gallery
- KeLan Foard The Brand, a men’s clothing and grooming shop
ELGA intends to open a new full-service branch location that will feature two ATMs with interactive teller functionality. The initial team of four employees will also process transactions, new accounts, personal and commercial lending, along with investments.
“This full-service branch will add convenience for people working, living, going to school and visiting downtown Flint,” said ELGA CEO Karen Church. “We are excited about our new branch location and looking forward to working with downtown partners to help move Flint forward.”
Buckham Gallery, Michigan’s oldest artist-run, non-profit gallery, will move into the building from its current second-floor space on the opposite side of Second Street. The new street-level location will provide more exposure to passing traffic for increased awareness and participation for events and artists, enriching Flint’s cultural scene. It also will be more accessible for individuals with disabilities.
“After 34 years in Buckham’s current gallery, we are looking forward to the move to Second and Saginaw, and starting our next chapter,” said Director Lynn Penning. “As Flint transforms and regains its vitality, it’s an exciting time, and Buckham Gallery is pleased to be part of the transformation. With Buckham’s new gallery space being street level, the new location will enable everyone in the community to attend our openings and exhibitions.”
KeLan Foard The Brand, in addition to its line of custom and fine ready-to-wear men’s clothing, will offer full grooming, personal styling and etiquette classes for “the growing and evolving generation,” said Owner Kelan Foard.
“KeLan Foard The Brand is an amazing opportunity to become, or enhance, the perfect gentleman that you naturally are,” said Foard. “This is our first official location, with hopes to have three more in five years. I currently have no employees; however, this is a business that if you already have a creative look, and amazing customer service, you can thrive and thrive well.”
The interior of the building will be subdivided and upgraded to meet the modern energy code requirements, including advanced lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks, and high-efficiency HVAC systems. The renovation will also replace the roof, windows, storefront entrances and adjacent sidewalks.
General contractor D W Lurvey Construction and the architectural firm Gazall, Lewis & Associates are handling the work.
The Perry building project will complete renovations to a cluster of buildings – the others being the Dryden Building, Ferris Wheel Innovation Center and Mott Culinary Institute – at the intersection of Saginaw and Second streets, enhancing the visual aesthetics of a major crossroad in the primary downtown commercial corridor. It will help attract businesses and talent to the area, increasing the tax base.
“By renovating the Perry building into a small retail hub, we are providing entrepreneurs and small businesses – many incubated at the Ferris Wheel, the Flint Farmers’ Market and Factory Two – with access to appropriate-sized spaces that will allow them to grow into the next phase of their business,” said Herman. “It will also help diversify the downtown business landscape into a 24/7 city center that serves the growing university student and young professional populations.”