The excitement was as abundant as the sun that crossed the sky on Saturday as residents, business owners and others attended the dedication of the Obama building in the Old Redford neighborhood in the west from the city.

City and state officials along with around 250 others attended ceremonies to mark the opening of the 104-year-old building on Grand River and Lahser, which was once a bank and will now house businesses and four apartments affordable.

The historic Obama Building in northwest Detroit opened on Saturday afternoon, September 25, 2021, during the inaugural Artist Village Detroit Arts Festival in Old Redford.  (Todd McInturf, The Detroit News) 2021.

The event was part of the inaugural Artist Village Detroit Arts Festival.

“The Obama building has already become a key part of this community,” said Detroit Blight Busters founder John George, a key organizer and revitalizer of the Old Redford area, on Saturday. “It is also proof that when you take the power of positive thinking and apply a big dose of elbow grease, anything is possible.

“What we do is truly teamwork and wouldn’t have been possible without the team at Blight Busters and Artist Village and our friends at The Platform.”

John George, left, executive director of Detroit Blight Busters Inc., dances with his granddaughter, Sophie-Ray Sleiman, 3, and community friend Kaden Gordon, 7, all from Detroit, on the Saturday after -midday September 25, 2021.

Detroit artist Charles “Chazz” Miller, founder of Artist Village, a Detroit Blight Busters program, said on Saturday, “I used to tell people what this place, this neighborhood, could someday become. , and they told me I was crazy. But look at it now. It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful. “

Detroit Artist Charles "Chazz" Miller poses in front of his fresco "First dance," inside the historic Obama building in northwest Detroit, Saturday afternoon, September 25, 2021.

The name of the Obama building was adopted from Miller’s portrait of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dancing in the artwork titled “First Dance” and once adorned the exterior of the historic building. before the $ 3.6 million renovation.

Miller’s inaugural exhibit, “Yes, We Can,” features the restored and “reinvented” “First Dance” mural and is now on display in the gallery.

Luther "Evil man" Keith plays guitar with his band, Saturday afternoon, September 25, 2021.

Peter Cummings, executive chairman and CEO of the platform, owns the Obama building. He told the crowd gathered for the event on Saturday that while the project was not one of the biggest he had been involved in, it was nonetheless important.

“This is unlike any project we’ve done in the city of Detroit,” Cummings said. “It’s smaller but it’s measured by the impact on the community.”

Cummings announced that the four small businesses leasing space in the Obama building are owned by African American women.

Yvette Ruffin, who heads the Malvern Neighborhood Association in Detroit, said she was happy to see the building renovated and opened.

“We hope this will revitalize the neighborhood,” Ruffin said on Saturday. “We are happy that they kept the Obama name.”

Yelena Ramautar, a member of Community Development Advocates of Detroit, who attended the event with Ruffin, said: “It’s wonderful that there is revitalization in the neighborhood.”

Ramautar said she was glad Cummings and others researched “community engagement” before deciding what the building’s name should be.


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