The nonprofit Serenity Place in Dover has broken ground on its new, 59,000-square-foot facility that will replace the building destroyed by fire in June 2011 and increase its capacity to provide treatment and counseling to men recovering from drug addiction and alcoholism.
The $650,000, two-story building will have 18 beds and a dormitory style bathroom on the second floor, and the first floor will have administrative and counseling offices, a kitchen, a laundry room, a dining room, a living room and group meeting rooms, Serenity Place Executive Director William Boyles said Wednesday.
Boyles hopes the $650,000 project at 327 Martin St. will be completed this coming autumn, weather permitting, he said.
Advance Construction is the general contractor putting up the steel work, and Larrimore Construction is doing the site work.
Serenity Place wanted to rebuild after the devastating fire, but the board soon learned from city Director of Planning Ann Marie Townshend that Serenity Place was prohibited from rebuilding because its use did not conform with the city's zoning ordinance, Boyles said. The property had originally been granted a conditional use permit in a highway commercial zone during its inception in the early 1990s, and city code forbid the nonprofit from rebuilding for nonconforming use, Boyles said.
So, Serenity Place started the process of requesting the rezoning which was eventually approved by Dover City Council in October 2011.
After that rezoning, it took some time for Serenity Place to obtain a variance from Dover's Board of Adjustment to allow for seven off street parking spaces instead of the 10 required by code, Boyles said. Then, Serenity Place was cleared to file its site plan and go through the normal building permit process, he said.
"It was a long journey," Boyles said. "Everybody's been real supportive."
The Longwood Foundation gave Serenity a $100,000 grant and Dover gave it a $30,000 community development block for construction costs, he said. Serenity Place is pursuing other grants and individual donations to be debt free on the project, but as a backup, it has an approved loan from M&T Bank.
Anyone interested in donating to the project or with questions in general can call Boyles at (302) 698-9103.