The Chaldean Community Foundation anticipates beginning construction of a 15,600-square-foot addition to its existing site on 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights later this summer or in early fall. MITCH HOTTS — THE MACOMB DAILY
By Mitch Hotts, The Macomb Daily
An artist’s rendering of how the new facility will look.
The Chaldean Community Foundation plans to begin construction later this summer for a $4 million expansion to its community center in Sterling Heights that only opened about three years ago.
Plans call for a 15,600-square-foot, single-story addition to the existing 11,500-square-foot center on the north side of 15 Mile Road, west of Ryan Road. The center opened in November 2015.
It will house office space, learning areas, medical suites, a health center and a multi-purpose gymnasium to provide activities for the developmentally disabled.
Martin Manna, foundation president, said the expansion is needed to meet the growing demand for services provided by the nonprofit organization.
“We’ve gone from 4,000 clients in 2011 to 35,000 this fiscal year,” Manna said Friday. “At this point, we believe we will have built enough for the future. This should be complete, but who knows what the future holds.”
The Sterling Heights City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a conditional rezoning to vacant lots west of the current center on 15 Mile from single-family residential to business and professional office to accommodate the project.
Engineering and building plans are expected to be approved at the council’s June 19 meeting.
Mayor Michael C. Taylor said need for the extra building underscores the importance the foundation staff to the Chaldean community in and around Sterling Heights.
“It’s hard to imagine that three years ago, you were operating out of a storefront that could have been a bakery,” Taylor said at Tuesday’s meeting. “To see you expand like this is remarkable.”
Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko agreed.
“What you do, the services you provide to the community make us a better community,” she said. “I knew when you first opened that you’d need an expansion.”
Construction will take place on two residential properties acquired for about $400,000 in 2016 and demolished. The project also will include an 1,800-square-foot lobby addition to the existing building.
Also, a 1,800-square-foot lobby addition to the existing foundation building will be constructed.
A rezoning agreement states the expanded building will be occupied during normal business hours Monday-Friday with the exception of occasional special events held at nights or on weekends. It will not be used for receptions or banquet-type events, but only used for foundation outreach activities.
Financing is coming from a variety of community donations, Manna said.
Another 10-12 people will be added to the staff of about 40.
The Chaldean Community Foundation is a non-profit charitable arm of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. They have a second location on Northwestern Highway in Farmington Hills. Its programs include a variety of services including English as a Second Language classes, career services, immigration services, loans, computer classes and access to low-cost health care services.
Sterling Heights has one of the largest Chaldean populations in Michigan, if not the United States, the mayor said. The Chaldean population in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties is estimated to be between 155,000 and 160,000 people.
“The center provides our services to anyone who needs them as much of our service centers on family sustainability,” Manna said, adding 15 percent of the clients are non-Chaldean.
“Much of the center will be for our life skills area. The reason we’ve done so well is we have a phenomenal staff that has empathy for anyone who comes through our doors.”
Manna said city officials worked well with the foundation.
“I will say I never have had such a wonderful experience as I have working with Sterling Heights and Macomb County,” he said. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”