2015 a good year for Downtown Flint

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FLINT (WJRT) - (12/29/15) - From new stores, to university expansions, to a new ice rink, those in Flint say there's a lot to be excited about Downtown as we head into 2016.

"I think it's fantastic that we have more options," said Kamesha Muggins.

Those options include the Ground Floor Market and Totem Books. In May, $100,000 in investments lit up Buckham Alley - permanently. Nearby, the under-construction Swayze Court Apartments aim to bring more people to the area to live.

From growing up in Flint to heading the city's Department of Planning and Development, Brian Larkin says the difference between now and a few years ago is night and day.

"You could play a game of touch football in the middle of the street. No one was there and it took the vision of a lot of individuals to really want to invest there," Larkin said.

He says that includes Diplomat Pharmacy, the Mott Foundation and, of course, the local colleges. In the last two months alone, the University of Michigan-Flint bought FirstMerit Bank's North Tower and was given the Riverfront Banquet Center to expand.

UM-Flint Chancellor Susan Borrego says there are millions of dollars in projects people don't know about.

"(We) redid a bunch of work in the Murchie Science Building. On the corner of Kearsley and Harrison, we're expanding and putting our dance studio in there," she said.

All to do its part in making Flint a place where people want to be.

"This is our community," Borrego said. "For us, the more life downtown, the better quality of life for students."

Looking ahead to 2016, a new ice rink opening on Saturday is a pretty solid start.

"I think it sends a message to the outskirts of the city that people still live here, people still care about Flint," Muggins said.

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