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Former Durham church could become residential building if developer gets rezoning

A former church on North Roxboro Street in Durham could become part of a wave of new residential projects near downtown, if the city of Durham approves a rezoning request.

The rezoning application, submitted by Al Kurdieh of Lorient Homes LLC, asks the city to allow for denser housing at 600 N. Roxboro St. — a property formerly home to the Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Faith Church.

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A Cary-based developer has proposed building a residential project on the site of a former church on North Roxboro Street near downtown Durham. Zachery Eanes

The proposal specifically calls for creating 14 residential units on the property, which is a little under one acre in size and is between Mallard Avenue and Canal Street, two streets home to several newly built or renovated homes.

A subsidiary for Lorient bought the church building for $900,000 in September 2018, according to Durham County property records. The property — in East Durham, an area seeing an influx of homes being flipped or built — now has an appraised value of $1.1 million.

The developer, Lorient Homes, is a Cary-based company managed by Kurdieh, according to the N.C. Secretary of State’s records. Efforts to reach Kurdieh through a number listed online and through an intermediary were not successful.

It is unclear whether the residential units will be for rent or for sale.

The church building at 600 N. Roxboro St. is currently vacant, with most of the walls and floors stripped bare, except for some rows of pews.

A sign posted on the front door of the church said Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Faith Church had relocated to 201 S. Alston Ave. and changed its name to Greater Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Faith Church.

Efforts to reach the church via a phone number attached to the sign and a Facebook message were not successful.

Emily Struthers, a senior planner for the Durham City-County Planning Departments, said the plan will need to be approved by both the city’s planning commission and a vote from the City Council.

The submitted plan doesn’t call for any changes to how high the developers can build on the property, Struthers said.

The site is currently zoned for height up to 55 feet, which is the equivalent of around four to five stories, depending on the design of the building, she said.

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.