A former church building in Hilliard is planned as a new location for Jerry Spears Funeral Home, a 90-year Columbus institution on the Hilltop.

A first public hearing by the Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission on rezoning the property is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10.

Bob Spears Jr., the great-grandson of the funeral home's founder who runs the business with his brother, Steve, and uncle, Jerry Spears III, said he lives nearby and had passed by the church building many times.

He said he approached the pastor, who was planning to retire and close the small church, and ended up striking a deal.

According to the Franklin County Auditor's website, the property was purchased for $500,000 in October.

"I always thought, 'That building would make a good funeral home,' " Spears said.

He said he and his family members had been considering expanding to Hilliard for a few years.

He said from the late 1950s to early 1960s, his family operated a location on West Main Street in Hilliard, and many families moved to Hilliard from the Hilltop over time.

Pending approval from the city, Spears' current plan calls for an additional 27 parking spaces, bringing the total to 70, and adding a second driveway from Frazell Road so all traffic isn't directed to the smaller Hyde Park Drive.

He said that most other major renovations would be inside the 1990s-era church building, including repainting and installing new carpeting and windows.

John Talentino, Hilliard's city planner, said that assuming a smooth process, final approvals could be in place for the project by the end of May.

When the project goes before Hilliard City Council, he said, another public hearing would be advertised and posted on the city website, hilliardohio.gov.