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Former Dollar Store Redeveloped into a Church Building

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Bill Skubik in Redevelopment

In March of 2012, Religious Real Estate was hired by Bacall Development ( to market their former Family Dollar Store at 2141 Puritan, Detroit. The Family Dollar Store ( had closed a year earlier due to underperformance. The building was vandalized with the copper piping being stolen, heating and cooling units damaged and the roof was leaking (standing water was evident in multiple locations). The utilities were turned off at the property so it had already been through the freeze thaw cycles of a Michigan winter. Its condition at the time represented some challenges.

Some History

The building was originally a neighborhood shopping center (Great Scott). The north side of Puritan was an upper middle class neighborhood leading into the upper class neighborhood of University District and Detroit Golf Club Estates. The neighborhood to the south side of the property was more middle class. Detroit as a hole has lost two-thirds of its population since peaking in the mid fifties. The neighborhood to the north of the property has seen vacant homes for the first time in its history. The neighborhood to the south has suffered blight with homes going vacant and/or being demolished.

The Building’s Bones are Evaluated

On the plus side, the property had the following positive attributes:
1. Located on the end cap of a city block (stretching from Bayless to LaSalle) on a busy thoroughfare (24 hour traffic count of 8,137)
2. Single story construction meant no steps (11,900 square foot building)
3. Modern rooftop heating and cooling units could be repaired
4. Roof leaks could be patched (a complete roof tear off was not necessary)
5. Parking lot for sanctuary seating 250 was already in place (total parcel .63 acres)
6. Clear span construction with support pillars every 24 ft to 32 ft
7. Ceiling heights of 15 ft

The Turnaround

In this challenge, Pastor Williams (Church of Jesus Our Lord (insert link for Pastor Williams) saw an opportunity. He used his background as a general contractor to see “what could be”. The shell of the building met his requirement for a modern building with no steps. He renovated the handicap bathrooms that had been vandalized while adding new bathrooms to service the sanctuary. The roof did require some patching with the surprise being that the rooftop heating/cooling units were salvageable. A fence was added around the parking lot.

The building that started out as a grocery store in 1936 is now one of the nicest buildings within a mile in each direction along Puritan Avenue. There are vacant lots to the south of the church that could be used for expansion. A vacant building that was on the edge of economic viability is now a success story. Rev. William’s ministry, Church of Jesus Our Lord is playing a positive roll in stabilizing a neighborhood.


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