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Former Korean church needs zoning change to allow for apartments, office space

Khalil Bou-Mikael, along with his father Sami, both with Bou-Mikael Management, are hoping to turn the former Korean First Presbyterian Church into a mix of apartments and retail or office space.

A former Korean church on Canal Street may have a new life as apartments and retail space if developers can snag a slight zoning change.

Khalil Bou-Mikael, along with his father Sami, both with Bou-Mikael Management, are hoping to turn the former Korean First Presbyterian Church into a mix of apartments and retail or office space. The property, located at 4439 Canal St., is currently zoned for residential use – which does not allow mixed-use development – so Bou-Mikael is seeking a zoning change to an HU-B1 district, which would allow for small retail establishments.

Most of the properties on the block facing Canal Street are zoned for mixed-use; the seven-unit apartment complex immediately neighboring the church is zoned HU-B2. Changing the church’s zoning would allow for more feasible uses, rather than merely residential, Bou-Mikael told a group of neighbors Wednesday.

“All of the uses would conform to what’s already on this block,” he said. “It wouldn’t be anything that wouldn’t fit into the neighborhood.”

HU-B1 zoning allows for businesses such as art galleries, day cares, cafes, medical clinics and small restaurants.

Developers don’t have any concrete plans for the building, though Bou-Mikael wants to include housing somewhere on the property. The church is backed up to its property line – leaving no room for parking – which is going to be the biggest challenge, he said. The nave is located on the church’s second floor, so the street level – which is mostly a large recreation room – may be converted to a garage if necessary.

The First Korean Presbyterian Church’s nave is located on the second floor, with a large rec room downstairs.

The nave also features 20-foot ceilings and large, open windows, centered around an arch. Bou-Mikael said there’s absolutely no plans to tear down the large church; instead, he hopes to bring the brick building back into commerce. All housing units would be for long term tenants only, Bou-Mikael added.

Though they don’t have an exact use for the property yet, Bou-Mikael said it’s more feasible to request a zoning change before expending money on architects and construction. If the City Planning Commission doesn’t approve a zoning change, Sami Bou-Mikael said he’s not sure if he would sell the property or find a new plan.

“We acquired it with the hopes that’ well get the zoning change,” Sami Bou-Mikael said. “Honestly, I don’t know what we’d do.”

If approved, Bou-Mikael said the project would take eight to 12 months to complete. Once the zoning change is requested, the CPC will schedule a hearing and signs will be placed on the church property if neighbors want to attend.

The First Korean Presbyterian congregation remained active until moving to Jefferson Parish recently.

2 Replies to “Former Korean church needs zoning change to allow for apartments, office space

  1. How can I protest this. I live around nd the corner and think it is ridiculous. These spot zoning attempts are just an excuse to subvert the neighborhood zoning laws and the only people that ever benefit from it are the wealthy developers.

  2. How can I protest this. I live around nd the corner and think it is ridiculous. These spot zoning attempts are just an excuse to subvert the neighborhood zoning laws and the only people that ever benefit from it are the wealthy developers.

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