Abandoned building on 8 Mile to get mural as part of ‘Art on 8’ initiative

The building is at 7115 W. Eight Mile Road in Detroit.

An abandoned building on Eight Mile Road near Livernois will soon be brightened with a new mural, thanks to a beautification project that also includes plans for new murals or art installations going up along the infamous boulevard in Ferndale and Oak Park.

It’s part of the Eight Mile Boulevard Association’s “Art on 8” program, which envisions murals or art installations one day lining the 27-mile corridor.

“At least one in every 13 communities that border Eight Mile that celebrates the individuality and connectedness” of those communities, said Cindy Thomas, the association’s executive director.

Cindy Thomas

She added that the murals or art projects should take into consideration their locations. “More importantly that it has community context, not just some random picture that has nothing to do with the area,” Thomas said.

The building is at 7115 W. Eight Mile Road and offers an eastern-facing brick wall measuring 80 feet by 15.5 feet. It is bordered by a vacant lot on the corner of Santa Rosa, offering an unobstructed view for neighbors and westbound traffic.

The building is owned by Ramiz Almass, who owns the Fresh Fish House chain, which has a location a few blocks west on Eight Mile near Wyoming, and who is working to redevelop it. He is also reportedly active in a redevelopment project in Brush Park.

Here’s the side of the building where the mural will be painted.

Thomas was our guest on a recent episode of the Daily Detroit Happy Hour Podcast, and she spoke about some of her ideas for introducing placemaking and other urban design elements to the legendary roadway. Eight Mile lent its name to the famous Eminem-starring film and long ago became a symbol of the region’s racial divisions, thanks partly to a widely misunderstood quote from former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young.

From the original request for proposals:

“We believe that the process of creating and executing these artworks would serve to solidify the 8 Mile community identity. Further, increasing the sense of community among residents and business owners will increase safety, provide the platform for resource sharing, and strengthen the voice of the region. Highly visible investment in these areas will instill a sense of pride and demonstrate that the region cares about 8 Mile and that the Boulevard is a highly valuable thoroughfare with a history worth celebrating.”

The mural at 7115 W. Eight Mile is being made possible by a $5,800 grant from the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. The plan is to use volunteers to install it, under direction from the winning artist, on June 20.

Thomas said she expects to make a decision on the winning bid the week of May 22 and make an announcement the following week. She reported “less than 10” entries as of Monday, the final day to submit proposals.

Two other placemaking grants totaling $10,000 apiece from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which Thomas said preceded her hiring last year as executive director, will pay for murals or art installations in Ferndale and Oak Park. The latter will likely correspond to the redevelopment of the former WWJ-AM transmitter building into a new restaurant.

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