By Tom Travis
The first guests have checked into their rooms and reservations have been made for the weeks and months to come, according to the new Hilton Garden Inn staff. A historic century-old building that sat vacant for two decades has been renovated into a new 101-guest room hotel in the heart of Flint’s downtown and is launching with several levels of COVID-19 protections.
Towering over downtown Flint, the 11-story building at the corner of Kearsley and Saginaw Streets, which has sat empty for more than 20 years, now includes The Sauce Italian/American Restaurant, and The Federal coffee shop.
The 148,000-square-foot building has been remodeled at a cost of $36.5 million. An equity investment from the Michigan Strategic Fund totaling $7.95 million has supported the project. In addition there was support from the City of Flint Brownfield Redevelopment Authority which supports the alleviation of brownfield conditions in redevelopment sites in the city, according to a press release from the Flint and Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the restaurants and meeting spaces, the new hotel will staff 45 full-time and 15 part-time employees.
The building that was at one time Flint’s tallest building has two addresses. The entrance to The Sauce restaurant is 325 S. Saginaw Street and the entrance to the Hilton Garden Inn, around the corner, is 110 W. Kearsley Street. Both The Sauce and The Hilton Garden Inn can be reached from either entrance.
The Sauce is open daily Monday through Thursday 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. More information can be found at their website at www.sauceitalianflint.com or by calling 810.233.9110.
“A lot of restaurants located inside of hotels are boring or expensive, and we want to be neither of those. We are an independent restaurant on Saginaw Street, first, before we are the restaurant for the Hilton. And the more restaurants there are in the city, the more people want to visit,” said Dan Wright, food and beverage general manager in a press release.
Opening in 2021, the Simmer Rooftop Bar is located on the five-story wing of the Hilton Garden Inn. With space for 115 people, about 90 percent of the seating will be outside. There is a small bar area inside. Simmer is expected to feature live entertainment at least twice a week. “It will have a nice, chilled vibe where you can go and simmer down and enjoy a great view,” Wright said in a press release.
The Hilton Garden Inn Hotel has 101 guest rooms and five meeting rooms with total event space of 3,130 square feet with the largest meeting room set up of 1,400 square feet. More information about the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel or The Sauce Restaurant they can both be reached by calling 810.233.9110. The Hilton Garden Inn information can be found at their website.
“The revitalization of downtown Flint has taken a major step forward with the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn, ” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corp. (URC), the project’s developer. “Not only does the hotel bring needed accommodations to downtown, it is bringing new jobs. In fact, it’s a lightning rod for increased activity and spending in the area,” according to a press release.
Indoor amenities and outdoor “green space” in the new Buckham Square
A new green space is provided through the demolition of two obsolete and blighted buildings with a total of 37,155 square feet. Those buildings were demolished at the corner of Kersley and Beach Streets. The hotel staff hopes the green space will be outdoor lunches or early evening cocktails.
Covid-19 protocols are followed
The Hilton Garden Inn General Manager, Jeff Stableford, said that the hotel staff are taking precautions for the continuing pandemic and spread of the novel coronavirus. Stableford said they basically operate with two sets of protocols, the Hilton Hotel corporate and the State of Michigan protocols.
He said they’re very similar but when there is a difference they side with caution and take the more stringent protocol. One example was that the State of Michigan hotel protocol states that after a hotel guest leaves the room and the room is cleaned and sanitized a new guest can enter the room.
Hilton’s protocol states that after a guest leaves the room it is cleaned and sanitized and the room must sit empty for 24 hours before a new guest can enter the room. The Hilton Garden Inn follows the 24 hour rule in this case.
Mask and social distancing signs are posted on all entry doors and throughout the hotel, bar, cafe and restaurant areas.
Sustainable improvements made to the century old building
Improvements listed include new windows from floors 3-11, patio bar, meeting rooms, restaurant, fitness room, landscaped park, new sidewalk, curbs and street gutters and restoration of the century old lime stone brick exterior.
Sustainable improvements include Energy Starlight, non-heat absorbent roofing, new high-performance closed-loop fluid cooling system, high-efficiency boilers and low-flow plumbing fixtures throughout the building.
Low-VOC (volatile organic component) paints were used throughout the building and energy-efficient LED lighting fixtures are used throughout the building. According to a fact sheet provided to members of the press about the renovation.
The new Hilton Garden Inn is designed with geometric designs in the carpeting, wallpaper and flooring tiles throughout the hotel. Historical photographs of Flint are seen throughout the building as well.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.