There’s Gonna Be a Big Party This Weekend at an Abandoned Chevy Factory in Flint, MI

The Flint Public Art Project plans on turning its city’s “Chevy in the Hole” brownfield site into a three-day public art festival — and Michael Moore might be there!

On the Chevy in the Hole site. Credit: Flint Public Art Project

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

Across the Rust Belt, cities that once proudly produced American cars and car parts have for decades dealt with often-crippling factory closures. Industrial buildings that employed hundreds or thousands apiece have emptied out en masse, leaving immense and hard-to-repurpose husks on the landscape.

You’ll find the most infamous example in Detroit, where the 3.5 million-square-foot Packard Automotive Plant has lured graffiti artists, metal scrappers and blight tourists since at least the 1990s, when most of the complex was abandoned for good. (Luxury cars haven’t rolled out of there since 1958, though other businesses on the premises had stuck it out for a while longer.)

But 60 miles northwest, another Michigan city — Flint, where the “planned shrinkage” concept gained credence thanks to U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, the former county treasurer — has found a momentary use for the site of its own sprawling and derelict auto plant. Known as “Chevy in the Hole,” the former Chevrolet manufacturing facility spans 130 acres of mostly empty land. All but two buildings of this century-old complex on the Flint River remain standing. A number of ideas for reimagining the site have floated across the city’s radar.

But in the meantime — for this upcoming weekend, at least — Chevy in the Hole will turn into a three-day art festival called Free City. Held by the Flint Public Art Project, a local non-profit (Flint native Michael Moore sits on its advisory council, we see), will open a mile-long portion of the brownfield to the public. In addition to installations, music, dance and workshops, attendees can go on walking and bike tours of the site to learn about its history and potential future.

Noting that the city of Flint has taken steps to clean and plant trees on the site, the festival website says the idea is to “demonstrate that a critical mass of temporary activities can turn abandoned industrial properties into active public spaces, and will highlight the ongoing transformation of Flint.”

In another program undertaken by the Flint Public Art Project, the group has invited a London-based team of architects and designers to install a temporary pavilion on a full-block parking lot in downtown Flint this summer.

Like what you’re reading? Get a browser notification whenever we post a new story. You’re signed-up for browser notifications of new stories. No longer want to be notified? Unsubscribe.

Tags: public spacemanufacturingrust beltflint

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 1109 other sustainers such as:

  • Anonymous at $10/Month
  • Emily at $60/Year
  • Nelson at $5/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    20th Anniversary Solutions of the Year magazine

has donated ! Thank you 🎉