Chaldean foundation seeks rezoning, building growth

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The Sterling Heights City Council introduced a plan June 5 to rezone property near the Chaldean Community Foundation in Sterling Heights so that the foundation can build an addition.
Photo by Erin Sanchez

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 20, 2018

First came the foundation’s building. Next comes the addition, if the Sterling Heights City Council eventually adopts a rezoning proposal.

The City Council took a first step toward that June 5 by voting unanimously to introduce a rezoning amendment that would change land north of 15 Mile Road, west of Ryan Road, from an R-60 residential zoning to an O-1 office zoning.

The applicant, the Chaldean Community Foundation, is seeking the rezoning to expand its Sterling Heights office by adding on an estimated 15,600 square feet of space. The addition would include a new lobby, as well as rooms for office, education and medical uses. A multipurpose gym could be used for outreach purposes, according to city officials.

Outside the edifice, the property would gain an exterior seating area, and parking spaces would be expanded from 67 to around 185 under the plan. More landscaping would be added, officials said.

The Sterling Heights Planning Commission reviewed the proposal in April and unanimously recommended its approval.

According to City Planner Chris McLeod, the additional parking spaces would alleviate parking concerns.

“They provide such a good service, and they’ve been so busy,” McLeod said.

Victor Saroki, president of Saroki Architecture, agreed that parking has been an issue with the facility due to its success. The new plan would go beyond ordinance-required parking levels, he said.

“We’re almost tripling it,” he said. “The building is … a little more than doubling in size.”

Chaldean Community Foundation President Martin Manna said his organization has seen a big boost in demand and traffic since the new building opened in November 2015. He said the foundation originally planned to help about 15,000 people per year, and now it’s helping an estimated 35,000 people. He added that the foundation is hiring another 10-12 people to deal with the demand.

“The center is open to everybody,” he said. “Almost 20 percent of our walk-ins now are non-Chaldean.”

Manna said financing for the expansion is in place, and it “can move as quickly as you allow us to.”

Council members who spoke in response to the presentations, including Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko, had positive things to say.

“What you do and the services that you provide make us a better community,” Ziarko said. “You are an easy partner to work with because your success is our success.”

Mayor Michael Taylor noted Sterling Heights’ status as having one of the largest Chaldean populations in Michigan and the country, and he said the community foundation has been a “tremendous advocate” by helping provide job skills to people coming from a foreign land.

“It’s hard to imagine that three years ago you were in a storefront at 15 and Ryan that could’ve been a bakery. It was not that large,” he said. “And to see you’re expanding like this is really remarkable.”

The City Council must adopt the rezoning amendment at a subsequent meeting in order for it to go into effect, and officials expect the topic to return at the June 19 council meeting.

Learn more about the Chaldean Community Foundation by visiting or by calling (586) 722-7253.