The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission granted initial approval to a plat and rezoning request to finish out a new subdivision on Tuesday at what was once the home of Park Avenue Church of Christ. The former church building, located at 714 W. Hull Street, was demolished last year to make room for the new residential subdivision.

The request for zoning change will now go before the city council for approval. The commission, who has final jurisdiction on plats, made the plat change contingent on the council’s approval of the zoning request.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle and I am proud to put my name on it,” developer Josh Holley said, following Tuesday’s meeting.

In 2017, the city council approved an agreement with Holley regarding the demolition of the structure, which was vacant and in disrepair, city officials said. In addition to being the home of Park Avenue Church of Christ, the building also housed Armstrong Avenue Church of Christ and New Covenant Life Church over the years.

As part of the agreement, the city would demolish the structure, without charge, in exchange for Holley constructing a new eight-home subdivision on the site. The city put the former church building on the demolition list last year. In most situations, the city would put a lien on the property to recoup this cost.

However, in the case of the former church, the city determined that the building contained asbestos and would require abatement or specialized demolition techniques. City Manager Jud Rex estimated the cost of the demolition at about $150,000 as “just about every part of the structure has asbestos in it.”

Following the construction of seven homes, Holley said he was left with two remaining lots that were too small to build a home on. To remedy the situation, Holley requested to replat and combine the lots into one single residential lot. As part of the property was zoned commercial, Holley needed to adjust the zoning for the property as well, city officials said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, P&Z Chairman Charles Shearer applauded the city for the decision, noting that it improved the look of the area.

“For those of us who had to drive past that structure, I am glad it is gone,” he said.

As of Tuesday, Holley said the seven homes had been built and all were either sold or under contract.

At the time of the agreement, Holley said the homes were expected to range from $125,000 to $135,000. Holley, who had experience with infill development in Denison, previously completed 10 similar residential projects in recent years, with several falling under the city’s affordable housing program.

“I think it’s an example of the city being creative in problem solving through incentivizing redevelopment and partnering with our local builders,” Rex said in 2017.