FLINT, MI — The county has agreed to sell a large office building in downtown Flint to a company with ties to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The county Board of Commissioners agreed on Wednesday, June 1, to sell the building at 601-605 N. Saginaw Street to SW3 Street Property, a limited liability company that lists its offices at the Mott Foundation headquarters and lists a Mott executive as its resident agent.
The county purchased the building, which once housed the Downtown Buick auto dealership, 21 years ago but has since announced plans to consolidate several of its offices at the north tower of the old Citizens Bank complex, which is also located downtown.
A Mott Foundation spokeswoman declined to comment on the $1.15-million sale or long-term plans for the building, which houses offices for the county’s Community Action Resource Department and other organizations.
The resolution approved by commissioners Wednesday says the county will lease the building from SW3 or its successor in interest, for successive one-year terms as needed following the sale.
County Director of Administration Josh Freeman said in a memorandum to board Chairperson Domonique Clemons that the building and others that will be sold because of the county’s consolidation have been appraised in preparation to be sold.
Commissioners agreed to make the sale in a 6-2 vote with the board’s two Republican members — Shaun Shumaker, Fenton Twp., and Meredith Davis, Flushing Twp. — opposing the move. Commissioner Debra Newman, D-Swartz Creek, did not attend the meeting.
Shumaker said the sale lacks transparency and “looks pretty shady” because it’s being sold without having been listed for sale, shutting out other potential buyers.
“The free market hasn’t been allowed to operate …,” Shumaker said Wednesday. “You wouldn’t (buy) something for $1 million” without sending it out for bids.
County officials said a purchase agreement for the property also still requires modifications — something Shumaker said should have caused commissioners to wait before authorizing the sale.
“If you were selling your damn house and you didn’t have final approval … on the paperwork, would you sign it?” he asked. “You damn well wouldn’t.”
In December, the county agreed to purchase the north tower of the old Citizens Bank complex on Saginaw Street from the University of Michigan for $8.5 million, a move that was anticipated to shake up the ownership of the GCCARD office building and other pieces of downtown real estate.
In addition to the GCCARD building, county officials have said they plan to consolidate the employees into the tower from the current county administration building, located across Saginaw Street from Flint City Hall; the McCree Health and Human Services Building on Saginaw Street; and the Donald R. Haley Building on Beach Street.
GCCARD is the county’s anti-poverty agency and its programs include Head Start and Meals on Wheels.
The agency’s weatherization program staff will eventually be moved to another facility on Lippincott Boulevard and proceeds from the GCCARD building sale could be used to address inadequacies at the Lippincott facility, Freeman’s memo to Clemons says.
In addition to housing the former Downtown Buick, the GCCARD property was once considered a potential home for a minor league baseball stadium during the tenure of former Flint Mayor Woodrow Stanley, but a deal to make Flint a part of a proposed new league never came to fruition.
Read more at The Flint Journal:
Genesee County agrees to purchase downtown Flint tower from UM for $8.5M
‘The kids were poisoned by water,’ expert testifies in Flint water trial
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