FLINT (WJRT) (11/29/2018) - Before shopping malls were a thing, downtown Flint was the place to be during the busy holiday shopping season.
With all the new construction going on right now, downtown business leader Tim Herman says Flint is on a roll.
"Coming downtown to shop at the old Smith-Bridgman's and Woolworth, to bring some of this back, is just very very heartening to me," Herman said.
The CEO of the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce said there's a lot to be excited about in downtown Flint right now.
Mott Community College is set to open its culinary school and cafe in January. Elga Credit Union and Buckham Gallery will be its neighbor, along with five retail spaces available for lease.
"Once people get here, they have a difference perception of downtown Flint," Herman said.
The redevelopment thus far has caught the eye of Durand resident Derick Spencer, who was visiting on a daddy-daughter date Thursday night:
"I had never seen this before, just saw it sitting across the street at the tree lighting and it was really neat to walk through here and see all of the different little stores along the way," Spencer said.
"Retail row" is comprised of pop up shops inside the Dryden Building anchored by Shift. Coming in February, a 2,600-square-foot "barcade" will go into a space located inside the Capitol Theatre Complex.
"We'll have a bar," said Spencer Ruegsegger, who will operate the business. "We'll have a lounge area, but we'll also have 15 classic vintage arcade games that you can play for very affordable (prices) and just enjoy themselves."
Ruegsegger, who will operate the barcade with fiancee Kristy Bearse, said it will be named "The Eberson." It will be named after John Eberson, who was the architect of the Capitol Theatre.
Redevelopment is also underway at the corner of Saginaw and Kearsley streets, where a Hilton Garden Inn is slated to open in April of 2020.
Flint native Rebecca Gibson, who is a grandmother, said she's excited to see more reasons for people to come downtown:
"That way we can get more people to get to come downtown and spend money," she said.