OneUnited Bank, Roxbury, Massachusetts, Kevin Cohee, Roxbury, black-owned

OneUnited Bank To Move Its Headquarters To Roxbury, Massachusetts

The area the bank is moving to in Roxbury is known as “Nubian Square” and has been the target of a serious investment campaign.

OneUnited Bank, the biggest Black-owned bank in the United States of America, announced its intention earlier in April to move its national headquarters from Boston to Roxbury. The move, which is anticipated to be completed in 2025, is expected to provide an example to the Black community in Roxbury and bring it into proximity with its customer base. 

As the Boston Globe reports, the move also represents a full-circle moment for the bank, which began in Roxbury in 1968 as the Unity Bank and Trust Company. Roxbury has been, and is still considered, the center of Black culture in the Greater Boston area. OneUnited Bank CEO and owner Kevin Cohee told the Globe that the move will help expand its economic investment in Roxbury. 

“The move will bring us geographically closer to our customers, align our executive office better with our local branch, which is essential to help us create new products and services to meet the needs of low to moderate-income communities, and provide more room for the growth in our employees,” Cohee said.

Cohee told the Boston Business Journal via an emailed statement that the move is as practical as it is symbolic. “We wanted to make that change because that’s part of our growth as a company and part of our growth as a people. It’s not that we don’t understand the importance of having facilities in places like downtown Boston,” Cohee said. “But we also think it’s important to have the symbolism of the leading Black-owned bank in the country coming straight out of Roxbury.”

The area the bank is moving to in Roxbury is known as “Nubian Square” and has been the target of a serious investment campaign. In 2023, the Globe declared that the area could be this generation’s Black Wall Street but would require a focused, collaborative, and intentional investment of capital into the area. In November, WGBH spoke to Nicole Obi, the president of the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, which had recently moved its headquarters to Roxbury. Obi told the outlet that the area had a lot of potential.

“The investment that’s needed is really focused on making sure that Nubian Square evolves into a place to live, work and play,” Obi said. “There’s so much pent-up potential in this area.”

Obi briefly alluded to Boston Celtics star guard Jaylen Brown and his stated desire to create a Black Wall Street in Boston before saying that she hadn’t spoken to him directly, but there are already other organizations in the community, such as Roxbury Community College, Franklin Cummings Tech, the Urban League, and Twelfth Baptist Church that are committed to doing the work. 

According to Boston Plans, the investment alluded to by Obi is well underway. There is a board-approved project by the Boston Planning & Development Agency in September 2023, the Nubian Square Ascends Project, aimed at making Nubian Square the center of Roxbury. According to its description, “The Nubian Square Ascends Project will transform Nubian Square into a cultural, entertainment, and artistic mecca that celebrates the rich diversity of the neighborhood. This mixed-use project will be developed by an all-minority team.”

The description continues, “Nubian Square Ascends will offer retail, entertainment, Artist Housing, commercial uses, and a 300-space parking garage. The project is anticipated to become a nexus of science, academic, and medical research, given its location in a key institutional corridor. A comprehensive wealth-creation plan will include approximately 900 permanent jobs and contract opportunities for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) during all project phases.”