The Obama Building opens in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood

'The Obama' opens in Detroit's Old Redford neighborhood
'The Obama' opens in Detroit's Old Redford neighborhood

A $3.6 million renovation of a historic bank building in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood opened this week -- and it’s paying homage to a former U.S. president.

The Obama Building, named after, of course, former U.S. President Barack Obama, opened after renovations. The development will bring four affordable, loft apartments and 8,800 square feet of retail space to the corner of Grand River Avenue and Lahser Road.

The Obama is the second completed project citywide to receive funding through Mayor Mike Duggan’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund initiative, a public-private partnership administered by Invest Detroit that raises funds from philanthropic partners and then invests that money into 10 neighborhoods spread across the city, including Old Redford.

The building’s name comes from a painting of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dancing by Detroit artist Chazz Miller that hung on the abandoned building for years before The Platform began renovating the structure in November of last year. The painting has been restored and preserved and will be prominently displayed inside the building.

In addition to providing much-needed high quality affordable housing opportunities, the project will support neighborhood retail and local entrepreneurs, helping to extend the mission of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund (SNF). The Obama is the first SNF-funded development to open in the neighborhood since Mayor Mike Duggan’s December 2018 announcement in Old Redford that the fund was being expanded and would include the neighborhood.

“Completing the rehabilitation of the Obama Building represents a high point of our work in Detroit,” said Peter Cummings, CEO of The Platform. "Our team is committed to making a difference in the neighborhoods — in this case, historic Old Redford. This is a classic example of the private sector partnering with foundations and government to accomplish together what none of us could have accomplished on their own. Kudos to the State of Michigan, the Fisher Foundation, Horizon Bank, and Flagstar Bank, through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, for supporting this effort.

The building was originally a Peoples State Bank branch and designed by architect C. William Palmer. It opened in 1917, nine years before Redford was annexed by the city of Detroit. After the bank closed in 1931, a likely victim of The Great Depression, the building was home to Stein’s Department Store, among other tenants.

For more information on the Obama Building and leasing opportunities, visit:

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