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FIRST LOOK: Banking on a New Hotel

A new Hilton Garden Inn is set to open in downtown Flint, MI, in 2020, transforming the former Genesee County Savings Bank Building into a new hotel.

Based on an original design by Tracy & Swartout, a then-prominent New York architectural firm, the historic 11-story building was Flint’s second skyscraper when it opened in 1920. The current transformation of the nearly 100-year-old building will result in a 101-room Hilton Garden Inn, complete with a full-service restaurant, a meeting and banquet center, and rooftop deck.

Detroit-based Kraemer Design Group is applying its expertise as the architect, interior designer and historic consultant.

“The interior design for the hotel draws inspiration from the Art Deco style of the historic banking hall and incorporates a modern and inviting take on the late-Deco features through the use of geometric forms and patterns, and rich colors,” said Sydney Daly, interior designer, Kraemer Design Group. “The materials employed throughout include Tennessee marble original to the building, mirrors and satin brass, bold wallcoverings, plush fabrics and classic wood tones.”

The guestrooms will include welcoming, bright and warm white walls, accented with pops of color through the upholstery fabric and classic wood tones featured on furniture pieces. The nods to the Art Deco period will extend to the subtle scallop pattern on the upholstered headboard. Bold geometric patterns in the rug and accent wallcoverings will make an appearance throughout the space. The artwork on the walls will incorporate abstract deco shapes overlaying historic images of the city of Flint. The guestrooms will reflect unique layouts and designs, a common feature of historic buildings that have been restored and preserved in a modern fashion.

The grand banking hall on the ground floor will be converted into a new destination restaurant. An existing balcony overlooks the restaurant and bar and will serve as a pre-function area to the meeting rooms and banquet spaces on the second floor. Upstairs in the tower, original marble wainscoting, bases and door casings remain, and are being restored to be incorporated into the hotel’s corridor design. A new rooftop bar—with views overlooking Buckham Alley to the south and of Kettering University’s campus to the west—is planned for the top of the adjacent five-story Sherman building.

Genesee County Savings Bank renovated and expanded the building previously, but not to the extent of the current renovation. The original Italian Renaissance Revival design of the banking hall and base of the tower was modified in 1947 to a streamlined and elegant late Art Deco style. At that same time, the Sherman Building was connected to the tower at each floor. The sleek, stainless-steel-clad Saginaw St. entrance and airy, two-story banking hall along Kearsley St. will retain much of the Art Deco detailing, which will be highlighted in the new restaurant. The original bank vault door will be incorporated into the private dining area.

“The overall approach to the architectural design focused on highlighting the original buildings,” said Nate Lindsey, senior project architect, Kraemer Design Group. “We did this by holding the required elevator and stair tower back from the building line and using complementary finishes that defer to the original limestone and brick. The removal of modern replacement windows and installation of historic replica windows was crucial to preserving the design of the historic buildings, as well as repair of the prominent copper cornice. Throughout the design process, our team identified remaining historic materials for preservation and incorporated the hotel program and Hilton Garden Inn amenities into narrow floor plates while overcoming structural challenges.”

The hotel will be managed by Crescent Hotels and Resorts. Flint, MI-based firms DW Lurvey Co. and Sorenson Gross are jointly managing construction of the project. Financing for the project is being made possible through Uptown Reinvestment Corp. (URC), the project developer, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Skypoint Ventures and Local Initiatives Support Corp., along with Huntington Bank and Old National Bank.

“Crescent has numerous historic properties in our portfolio, but this property’s transformation from a 1920s bank will definitely create a unique experience for guests,” said Michael George, CEO, Crescent Hotels & Resorts. “As an award-winning Hilton manager, team Crescent and our unique approach will maximize the potential of this property.”