Flint historic union hall transformed into nightclub
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The United Auto Workers Local 599 building has stood on East Leith Street on Flint’s north end for more than 60 years.
Now, it’s getting a new life as a nightclub and event center, the Flint Journal reported.
Once serving as the largest local union in the world, Local 599 served approximately 28,000 Buick workers at its peak in the 1960s.
But those figures began to dwindle and the final vehicle, a LeSabre, rolled off the assembly line at Buick City, a sprawling 364-acre site running from Pierson Road to Harriet Street on the south end, on June 29, 1999.
Some production of transmission components continued at three separate plants on the property until 2010, when all buildings were demolished, according to the RACER Trust website.
That history is visible in the photos on the wall and vehicles in the main lobby as you walk into the union hall at 812 Leith Street, which has undergone a large transformation over the last six months to become the Buick City Event Center, a new nightclub and concert venue.
“This sat right in the heart of Buick City. Buick was the only automobile built completely among this little city,” said Scott Williamson, son of former Flint Mayor Don Williamson and Patsy Lou Williamson and president of Buick City Event Center. “As they removed Buick City and this building was the last building standing, we wanted to preserve this heritage.”
Patsy Lou Williamson purchased the hall in 2012, saving the building from going to auction.
Some of the building still operates as a union hall on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for a benefits representative to meet with Local 599 retirees that may have questions.
But upgrades have taken place in much of the 26,000-square-foot building, including a fresh coat of paint, the installation of two full-service bars, six VIP rooms, a green room for performers, closed-circuit TV system and a meet-and-greet room.
The event center’s concert space, which can hold up to 1,000 people, recently held a soft opening, with performances by Larry Lee and the Back in the day Band and Deborene Bland-Jackson.
“There will be a variety of genres of music,” said Scott Williamson, from county to classic rock, rhythm and blues to jazz, and some comedy acts. “You’ll have a little for each individual.”
Other acts set to perform in the coming weeks include Flint rappers Jon Connor and The Dayton Family, blues guitarist Larry McCray with Thornetta Davis, Led Zeppelin tribute band Zoso and The John Vance Band with The Hilton Boys.
“We just wanted to bring events her more frequently than they have in the past,” Williamson said.
The two-story event center will staff 58 people during shows, including security in the parking lot and at the doors leading into the venue.
He gave thanks to Patsy Lou Buick GMC for being a “big heart sponsor” in helping get the project completed.
“It’s job creation and trying to draw people back to the city of Flint,” added Scott Williamson. “It’s exciting. It’s unbelievable. The organization had faith in myself to take this across the finish line from start to finish. It’s been a long road but we’re almost there.”
Applications are still being taken for bartenders, wait staff, security, and the promotions team. Anyone interested in employment can head from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday to the Buick City Event Center.
Information from: The Flint Journal, http://www.mlive.com/flint