Sterling Heights

Breaking the mold: A look inside Sterling Heights' new $12m bank

From cafes to apple orchards, the new Christian Financial Credit Union (CFCU) building in Sterling Heights is full of surprises. 
The $12 million headquarters opened at 15 Mile Rd and Van Dyke Ave last month, and looks more like a trendy neighborhood than a traditional financial institution. The unique design is an example of a hybrid style of office space that incorporates “open office” environments. 

For CFCU employee Rebekah Monroe it’s the abundance of sunlight and outdoor areas that has her excited about her new work space.
“So far my favorite place is our balcony,” Monroe says. “Working outside on these nice fall days is a literal breath of fresh air.”
The design of the 40,000-square-foot building was inspired by the work of Georgetown University Professor Cal Newport, and replaces the former CFCU base at Gratiot and Utica Roads, which was built in 1970 and will remain in operation. The new hub is home to more than 100 employees and is a non-transactional branch, primarily serving mortgage and commercial loan customers.
Here are 5 unexpected elements to discover at the new premises:

An apple orchard

CFCU President and CEO Patty Campbell looks forward to seeing members picking Red Delicious apples from the 35 trees planted on the grounds. A walking trail also surrounds the front of the building and is aimed at encouraging staff and visitors to appreciate natural beauty.
“Pack your lunch and enjoy a picnic by one of our scenic areas,” Campbell says.

Urban alleyways and spaces

Designed to bring the outside world in, urban alleyways and exterior building materials have been used to create an outdoor feel. A mural created by Detroit street artist Malt adds to the outdoor experience, and Fogarty says the concept has a “Greektown” and local feel.

Cafes and marketplaces

An upstairs coffee house and a downstairs marketplace help continue the urban approach here. 
CFCU Chief Strategy Officer Lauren Fogarty says the appeal of the new hub lies in providing choices for workers.

“I love the ability to get up and change my environment,” Fogarty says. “In more traditional office spaces you’re limited to being stationary. Here, you are not chained to your desk.”

Gallery and movie room

A gallery (pictured above) provides another innovative gathering spot, while a large screen projector and u-shaped seating in the building’s movie room boasts a high-tech meeting space for workers, where multiples screens can be displayed at a time for training and webinars. 

A hotel lobby and “loft”

Upstairs from a hotel lobby area is what employees have dubbed “the loft”, a foyer-like space with a cozy fireplace arrangement on one side and a community table with a monitor on the other. It’s another place Fogarty says will make ideal meeting and receptions options for her and her co-workers.
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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at