Mott Community College (MCC) is experiencing a growth spurt. The College is wrapping up renovation of the former Woolworth’s building in downtown Flint creating the Mott Community College Culinary Arts Institute, and is beginning renovation of the former Woodside Church to create the Lenore Croudy Family Life Center. Both properties have historical significance, and both are being re-purposed to help meet the needs of MCC students and their families.
The Mott Community College Culinary Arts Institute
Food-related career fields are hot (pardon the pun). Nationally, the restaurant industry is projected to grow by 1.7 million jobs by 2025, and the demand for trained chefs is high. To meet demand, MCC is expanding its Culinary Arts program by creating the Culinary Arts Institute in a renovated building on Saginaw Street in downtown Flint. The old Woolworth’s building at the corner of Second and Saginaw streets is a perfect fit for the project. It affords the College an opportunity to not only grow by adding more space to facilitate more students, but it also gives MCC an opportunity to expand course offerings to include such things as meat fabrication and drink mixology.
Relocation downtown will also allow expansion of the Culinary Arts student-operated restaurant service to include a baked goods café, and support community events in the downtown area. Additionally, the move downtown will co-locate the Mott Community College Culinary Arts Institute within the Flint Health and Wellness District, where institutional anchors are focused on healthcare, positive eating habits and physical fitness.
“Mott Community College is committed to the greater Flint community,” said MCC President, Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea. “We believe that relocating our Culinary Arts program to the heart of downtown Flint will have a positive impact not only on our students, but on the local economy as well. The restoration of a dilapidated building into a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Institute will help create a vibrant destination for all of Flint and Genesee County.”
The 36,000 square-foot former Woolworth’s Building was originally built around 1920. While it is not located in a designated historic district, existing historic elements, such as arched window openings, have been preserved, and new period-appropriate elements have been added to the exterior to recreate an historic look.
Inside, everything is new and state-of-the-art, from the wiring and plumbing to the wine vault and confectioner’s kitchen. Once open, the building will feature a student-run fine dining experience weekdays during the lunch hour in Applewood at Second & Saginaw, in addition to a Coffee Beanery franchise featuring baked goods provided by the Baking and Pastry Arts students. To service special events, there is a wine vault and small bar area where students will be trained in drink mixology.
In addition to the public dining area, the Institute will house two culinary arts teaching kitchens (a “Professional and International Cooking” lab, an “Advanced Cooking” lab), two bakery and pastry arts teaching kitchens, a meat fabrication teaching laboratory, a garde mangér classroom, and a large, dividable meeting space to teach all aspects of the food service industry to MCC students. All lab spaces contain eight fully-equipped work stations designed to accommodate two students per station.
On the second floor of the building will be a large conference room with a demonstration kitchen, two smart teaching classrooms. Faculty offices, student locker
rooms and lounge spaces, cold and dry storage, food recycling , and waste disposal will be located in the basement of the building.
“This facility will not only allow us to increase the number of students in the program, we will be able to give our students more hands-on experience in a wide array of culinary skills,” said Matthew Cooper, Coordinator of the Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts program.
“We will be able to enhance an already outstanding program,” said Stephen Shubert, Dean of the Business Division. “Our students learn skills from Executive Chefs to earn degrees that seamlessly take them to solid careers in the growing field of Culinary Arts. Mott Culinary graduates work locally, statewide, and nationally in some of the most prominent restaurants and food service businesses. We’re excited to even better prepare students for careers in a lucrative industry where they can be creative and showcase their skills for a lifetime,” he added.
The Culinary Arts Program at MCC can currently accommodate 200 students. The new Culinary Arts Institute will be able to enroll up to 500 students at full capacity.
The Institute’s grand opening is set for May, in time for the Summer semester. Both students and faculty are looking forward to dirtying some pots and pans in the new facility.
MCC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Baking and Pastry Arts, Culinary Arts, and Food Services management, and Certificates in Professional Baking and Professional Cooking are also available . Students enrolled in the MCC Culinary Arts program receive intensive training in all phases of the restaurant business, giving them the expertise necessary to become a professional in any area of the foodservice industry.
The Lenore Croudy Family Life Center
MCC is taking a holistic approach to students with families and students who need a little extra help to achieve their academic and personal goals by creating a Family Life Center in the former Woodside Church adjacent to the main campus in Flint. The Lenore Croudy Family Life Center, named in honor of long-time MCC trustee and Board Chair, will be home to MCC’s nationally accredited Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) and wrap-around support services designed to help students overcome barriers to completing their degrees.
Planned renovations will allow MCC’s on-site child care center to increase enrollment from a maximum of 75 children to a maximum 125, and to serve children from six months to five years of age. It currently is only available to children two-and-a-half to five years old.
The Family Life Center also will serve as a resource hub, helping MCC students and their families to address such basic needs as food, housing and transportation. Non-student parents of children in the ECLC program will also have the ability to access family support services on site.
“Having a Family Life Center will help eliminate the challenges facing our student parents in accessing high-quality, early education for their children,” said MCC President, Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, “and reduce barriers that prevent some of our students from completing their educations.”
Designed by internationally known architect Eero Saarinen, and built in 1952, renovation has begun on the remodeling and expansion of the ECLC section of the building. Plans include creating four new classroom spaces for infants, young toddlers, older toddlers, and transition age youth, bringing the total number of classrooms to eight. In addition to the new classroom spaces, the renovation will also create new spaces dedicated to gross motor movement for infants/ toddlers and pre-school age children, as well as a new, private lactation & feeding room. The ECLC is located on the first floor of the building on the northwest side.
In addition to providing a high quality early childhood educational experience for children, the ECLC also provides opportunities for field practicum experiences for MCC students in the Early Childhood Education Associate’s of Science degree program. Adding early childhood development services for children 0- 2.5 years old will improve the substance and depth of the classroom and field work experiences for future educators.
The ECLC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Accreditation signifies that the center has achieved excellence in providing high-quality early childhood education for young children. It is open to the children of MCC student parents as well as children of parents in the Flint and Genesee County community who are not affiliated with the College.
Renovation of the remainder of the building will include former offices and small chapel on the first floor and the basement level. These spaces will be dedicated to housing the wrap around services for students with barriers to completion. Frequently, an MCC student’s education is derailed due to housing and food security issues, employment issues, or health issues.
The Family Life Center will function as a resource center for students, housing a battery of support services ranging from community human service and nonprofit information and referrals, the MOTT Eats Food Pantry, Ellen’s Closet (gently used professional clothing given to students seeking employment), assistance with tax return preparation, job and career supports, assistance with housing and homelessness issues through local providers, legal and health-related referrals, to possible laundry facilities.
The wrap-around services in the Family Life Center will ensure that students get the extra help they need to succeed.
The former sanctuary will be maintained for multiple uses including music concerts, speakers, plays and public events.
The more than $10 million renovation, which will include building and site upgrades of the roof, HVAC systems, plumbing, computer networking, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, and landscaping, is funded in part by a $3 million grant from the Mott Foundation and $5 million from the College’s bonding authority, as approved by the voters. The remaining project balance of just over $2 million will be raised by securing additional grants and traditional fundraising by the College and the Foundation for Mott Community College through the Lenore’s Lifetime Friends Campaign.