Doctor gets rezoning approved for office at former El Shaddai church

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 17, 2019

 Derek Hill wants to revamp the former El Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church into a medical office, and Hill is now one step closer to his goal after securing a conditional rezoning from the Ferndale City Council.

Derek Hill wants to revamp the former El Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church into a medical office, and Hill is now one step closer to his goal after securing a conditional rezoning from the Ferndale City Council.

File rendering provided by Derek Hill

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FERNDALE — A doctor aiming to open a medical office at the site of a vacant church has cleared another hurdle required to make it happen.

The Ferndale City Council approved at its Sept. 9 meeting a conditional rezoning application from Derek Hill, an orthopedic surgeon who wants to open an office at the former El Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church. The project would renovate the existing building.

The conditional rezoning is tied to Hill and this specific application. If the medical office were to move, the rezoning would expire, said Community and Economic Development Director Jordan Twardy.

The application was approved with nine conditions attached, including limiting the use of the building to medical or office; maintaining green space; buffering the surrounding properties with deciduous and evergreen trees; and that the zoning of the property would revert to the underlying zoning, which is single- and multi-family residential, if the project fails to receive a certificate of occupancy within two years of approval.

The site previously was approved to become a 28-unit, multiple-family development in 2017. Hill currently operates out of Warren but was searching for a new area with his wife, a vascular surgeon, for both of them to work.

“I saw this property and that it was up for sale, but that it had some condo plan, and (I) kind of lost hope,” Hill said at the meeting. “After talking to some people, they suggested I come to the city and see what could be done.”

With the conditional rezoning approved, the next phase is approving the site plan. The plan has been approved by the Planning Commission, according to city documents, though it might have to be revised if Hill is unable to secure agreements with adjacent property owners on certain boundaries.

Hill also noted that he won’t be making any changes to the footprint. Changes being aimed at include replacing the “plastic stained glass” with windows, upgrading the facade and making the building handicapped-accessible.

“I think that we’ve developed a nice plan for a way to use this space,” Hill stated. “I think it’s much, much better than a condo, especially for the nearby neighbors. ... I think it’ll be a benefit for the city, in general. I think the neighbors in the city will find we’re going to be excellent neighbors, and we’re going to do everything we can to be good neighbors and to make sure that any issues that people have, we address them.”

Councilman Dan Martin, who was appointed as mayor later in the meeting and who also acts as the council liaison to the Planning Commission, said the commission found the project to be a creative use of the space in a neighborhood that doesn’t appear to be in conflict with the neighbors or the surroundings. He also felt the previous project wasn’t going to work for “a number of reasons.”

“I have to compliment the doctor and his team. Even though we were very impressed with the proposal, we threw some more conditions and stuff out there just because we do, and you know they’ve been very receptive and very flexible and, from the commission’s perspective, great to work with,” he said.

Hill said he’s very excited to move forward with the project.

“I think the building is going to be beautiful,” he said. “It’s going to be a great place, and I’m super, super excited about it. We met with some general contractors today who went through the building, and everybody’s got great ideas and everybody’s excited to work on this. So hopefully, with your approval, next summer we’ll be opening up the doors.”

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