There are several examples of church reuses in Buffalo, like Babeville and the Bryant Parish Condos, but there still remains a multitude of beautiful churches prime for repurposing. Oftentimes since these buildings were constructed for a single purpose, they pose a challenge for potential developers.
Our neighbors to the north in Toronto have accepted the challenge and the latest is the Bellefair Kew Beach Residences. When the project is completed in 2012, it will be home to twenty-three condos and six townhouses which range in price from $359,000 to about $1.1 million. Ninety percent of the units have already sold. There will be retail on the first floor in order to better incorporate the project to the rest of the street and enliven the area.
The design respects the historic building, while also finding a practical reuse. Admittedly, it would have been much easier to demolish the church and build new, but the father and son duo of Reserve Properties wanted to preserve the main structure and walls at a cost of $1 million. Keeping the original structure creates an interesting streetscape and respects the past while looking toward the future.
While the market for higher-priced units in Buffalo market is much smaller, it doesn't mean a similar project cannot work here. For example, think of this applied to St. Mary's on the Hill on Niagara Street, which is partially demolished. Having a two or three story residential structure rise from the remaining ruins of the once beautiful church preserves the remaining beauty while also giving new life to the site.
Entry Image and side view: Reserve Properties
St. Mary's on the Hill: David Torke of fixbuffalo