Orthopedic surgeon Derek Hill presented two renderings of what the rehabilitated building could look like, including this version with red bricks.

Orthopedic surgeon Derek Hill presented two renderings of what the rehabilitated building could look like, including this version with red bricks.

Rendering provided by Derek Hill


Doctor looking to renovate former El Shaddai church into medical office

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 9, 2019

 Orthopedic surgeon Derek Hill is looking to turn the former El Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church in a medical office space. The current building suffers from roof and water damage.

Orthopedic surgeon Derek Hill is looking to turn the former El Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church in a medical office space. The current building suffers from roof and water damage.

Rendering provided by Derek Hill

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FERNDALE — A vacant church that once looked like it might become a multifamily development now might be rehabilitated into an office space.

During an April 3 Ferndale Planning Commission meeting, the board heard from Derek Hill, an orthopedic surgeon who wants to turn the former El Shaddai Missionary Baptist Church into a medical office space with his wife, who is a vascular surgeon. The couple would share the space, as well as lease out remaining space for other medical offices.

In addition to rehabbing the entire building, Hill is proposing parking and landscape improvements.

“I personally like the building,” he said. “I think it’s got some character to it, and I think it’s kind of a cool building. I just think it needs some TLC, and it needs to be used. It’s sitting vacant in pretty bad disrepair. The roof leaks and it’s basically destroyed the inside, but I think that the structure is still good, and it can be turned into something really nice, and that’s what I’m hoping to do. My wife and I would like to have our practices there. We think it’s a nice location. It’s very central.”

The  0.89-acre, 17,000-square-foot building previously was approved to become a 28-unit multiple-family development in 2017.

“Since that time, conversations with the existing property owner have stated it’s been tough financially to finance the building and move forward with that, so he was looking at some other options,” City Planner Justin Lyons said.

Because the space is zoned R-3 single/multiple-family residential, a medical office space is not permitted at the site as it stands. Since the project was worthy of discussion, Lyons said that Hill would have to apply for a conditional rezoning, which allows an applicant to propose a different type of use.

“If it is rezoned … and approved for a rezoning, if it does not go forward, then the zoning reverts back to the original underlying zoning,” he said.

Matt Osiecki, a real estate broker who represents the seller of El Shaddai, said the building has been marketed for more than a year as an apartment complex, but it has not had any success.

“The rents in the area just don’t really justify new construction yet, and the developer’s just not willing to do anything at this point,” he said.

Osiecki said they started looking at alternative uses when Hill came along, and Osiecki said that he feels the doctor’s proposal would be a “great benefit” to the area.

“I just think that if this doesn’t go through, we would need to look at alternative uses because the apartment complex has been tested and it hasn’t held water,” he said.

The Planning Commission responded positively to the proposed project. One of Hill’s cited community benefits for the project was maintaining “a long-standing landmark building,” which was a plus in the eyes of multiple commissioners. Other community benefits mentioned at the commission meeting included improving the “neighborhood aesthetic” and maintaining the character of the neighborhood by renovating the current structure.

“I like the proposal,” Commissioner Patrick Rock said. “I think we should be in the business of saving these structures.”

Hill told the Woodward Talk that he will next look to develop a specific site plan for the project to bring back to the Planning Commission.

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