Chad Swiatecki, The Flint Journal, Tues, December 21, 2010
An idled all-ages concert venue will reopen its doors early next year thanks to a grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation.The $200,000 grant awarded in October will pay for engineering, plumbing, electrical and heating work in the dormant commercial space at 124 W. First St., which will become the new home for the Flint Local 432, an all-ages club that has offered alcohol-free concerts for area teenagers at various locations in downtown Flint since the mid-’90s.omplete and engineering work in progress, club organizers hope to begin construction and rebuilding of the 8,000-square-foot space early next year, with plans to open in late April or May. The reopening follows close to five years of inactivity for the Local, which at points has called some of downtown Flint’s newly revived business district home.
“I’d loved to have been open sooner, but being able to be open at all is what’s most important and getting this work done allows us to do that,” said Joel Rash, who in 1994 founded the Local in the back of the former Economy Printing building that now houses the Brown Sugar Cafe.
“We’re going to stick to what we’re good at, which is Friday and Saturday concerts that have always been the main part of our mission.
“With the extra space we have we’ll also be able to do some after-school stuff and evening programming for other sorts of arts, so the Local can have value for kids who aren’t all that into music.”
During the years it operated, the Local showcased hundreds of punk, heavy metal, alternative rock and other bands, serving as an incubator for Flint-area professional touring bands like Chiodos and The Swellers, and featured early tours by eventual national headliners including My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria and Yellowcard.
Rash purchased the building most recently known as the Genesee Indian Center in 2006 and has been working on relaunching the Local while a mix of restaurants and other businesses have sprouted up around the property. The venue’s opening will bring a younger demographic to the downtown’s nightlife, which Rash acknowledged may take some time for nearby business owners to adjust to.
“I’m not saying having 200 kids downtown at night won’t bring with it some attendant issues, but it’ll be a process and if you look at the kids who have come through our doors over those many years, the vast majority of them knew how to act and what was expected of them,” he said. “We know the young people will also bring a ton of business traffic and for one example, I think Wize Guys Pizza is going to do very well by the Local.”
While the Mott grant will pay for the non-profit to complete construction, its organizers will still need to raise money for audio equipment, a stage and other infrastructure. For general admission “standing” events the club’s capacity will be 275 people; seated it will hold 125.
Now grown adults, many of the club's early alumni look forward to area teens having a place where they can get away, hear music and socialize in a structured environment.
“As someone who played in a ton of bands at the Local, it was so great to have a place where you didn’t have to play ‘Freebird’ to get someone to notice you, and where people just wanted to hear some music,” said Chris Everson, who owned and managed the Local in the early 2000s and is now the events assistant with the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“With the tutoring and other things we’ll have going on it’s going to be more than just a couple guys throwing punk and metal shows. It’ll be great because whenever we took a break in the past, six months after we got going again all these bands just sprang up out of nowhere. I can’t wait to have that happening here again.”