Pharmacy to become church site

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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With needed approvals in place, the site of the former Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy will soon become a church.

Suffolk City Council on Nov. 18 gave its unanimous approval for a conditional use permit that will allow Pastor Lorenzo J. Mallory Sr. of Greater Dimensions Kingdom Ministries to convert part of the 7,432-square-foot building into a church.

There are two existing commercial structures on the property, with the church occupying the 3,890 square feet that was the old pharmacy location at 3219 Bridge Road.

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Former state delegate Chris Jones owns the property with his wife in the Food Lion shopping center and operated a pharmacy for nearly 34 years — the last 24 years at the Bridge Road location — before closing it in 2019.

Mallory had been operating his church at 1589 Bridge Road for the past six years before seeking a new location to handle his ministry’s growth. He said Jones has gone “above and beyond” in helping Mallory and his church with the conditional use permit, noting that he and his church were in need of a building suitable to handle that growth.

“This building is an excellent fit for our small group of less than 50 people and will aid us in continuing our ministry work in Suffolk,” Mallory said during a public hearing. “Our goal is to help people that are in need in times such as these, and we are excited for this opportunity.”

The main sanctuary for the church would seat a maximum of 50 people and be 2,075-square-feet, according to a floor plan for the church, which would also include office space for employees, a Sunday school classroom and kitchen space to serve light refreshments. The church has no plans for daycare on the property.
The Planning Commission also gave its unanimous approval at its Oct. 20 meeting after the city’s planning department recommended approval.

During a public hearing before the commission, Jones said there were several people interested in leasing the property, but he decided to lease to Mallory and his church, noting its “great leadership.”

Jones, in a narrative of the proposed use for the church, said there would be minor interior modifications, and none made to the outside of the building or to the site itself.

The church plans to operate from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays for Bible study. Parking is not an issue, according to the staff report.