05/02/2012 11:40 am ET

Urban Partnership Bank Detroit Branch Opens In Midtown

A new bank branch is making some of Detroit's business leaders envision a bright, revitalized future for the city.

Chicago-based Urban Partnership Bank opened a branch Tuesday in Midtown at 4830 Cass Avenue, replacing a loan location on Detroit's East Side at Mack Avenue and Chambers Street. The bank is in the mixed-used building The Union at Midtown and is 3,000 square feet, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

Urban Partnership Bank has several locations in Chicago and one in Cleveland. The Midtown Detroit branch will work with small businesses, nonprofits and faith-based organizations and provide low-cost financial services to city residents. According to the Detroit Free Press, it will not charge for debit cards.

Community leaders and officials who announced the bank's opening see more than a 10-person business and some convenient ATMs; they envision the bank as a step forward in the city's revitalization.

In a statement, Mayor Dave Bing called it "more than just a new bank branch, it's a new community resource for Midtown."

"It is part of our broader vision to help neighborhood residents build a stronger financial foundation as a catalyst for transforming Detroit," he said.

According to the Free Press, Sue Mosey of Midtown Detroit Inc. and George Jackson of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. praised the role the bank could have in small-business growth and redevelopment financing.

But supporters will have to hope the community bank's service mission won't give it problems. In 2010, Urban Partnership Bank took over the assets of the similar ShoreBank, at the time the oldest community development bank in the country. ShoreBank faced continued financial struggles as low-income members were hit harder in the recession, according to Reuters, and the bank closed after it failed to get government funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The climate for community banks may be more welcoming in Detroit now than in earlier years. Five years ago, a bank hoping to serve minorities who own small businesses and young tech companies worked to open in southwest Detroit, but the optimistically-named First Spirit never raised the necessary funds.