May 17, 2012

Lafayette Presbyterian Estate Sale to Kickstart Adaptive Reuse

The start of a big transformation is beginning this week at Lafayette Presbyterian Church on the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette Avenues. Starting this Friday at 9:30 a.m. the Church will be having an estate sale of the remaining furniture and other items before the transformation from Church to apartments takes place. In depth information on the sale is located on the Sweet and Harding website here.
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Lafayette Presbyterian was designed by Lansing and Beierl and was constructed between 1894 and 1896. The medina sandstone building will now have a new life as apartments that will respect the architectural integrity of the building.
During my recent walkthrough, Reverend Drew Ludwig was anxious and excited for the new change to come. “This is the beginning of new chapter for Lafayette Church,” said Ludwig, “We can’t wait to see what happens when we take all of the energy, time, and money that once went into the buildings into serving our community.”
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The apartments are designed with an open floor plan to highlight all the beautiful architectural features. Each unit will be unique and range from one to two bedrooms, many of the units will also feature loft space. The apartments will be professionally managed and offered at market rates. The architecture and engineering firm of Carmina Wood Morris has taken over the project and is in charge of the design and historic tax credits.
Since the redevelopment will be utilizing historic tax credits the sanctuary space must remain largely unchanged because it is a character defining feature of the building. As a result apartments will be limited to other locations throughout the complex and the sanctuary space will serve as a gathering space. The upcoming sale even includes many of the church pews so that the sanctuary can utilize a larger gathering space towards the rear.
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So the big question, is the church closing? “Far from it!” said Rev. Drew, “After the renovations, we will still have a larger-than average physical plant, with room for us to practice hospitality and grow.  The building will be preserved, and we will go from an annual budget deficit to having funds to reinvest in the Elmwood Village.”
The estate sale runs this Friday through Sunday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm on Friday and Saturday and noon to 4:00 pm on Sunday. Come out this week to see some fantastic offerings and enjoy the “before” to truly appreciate the transformation that is coming to his Elmwood Village landmark. Keep up to date on construction (completion slated for January 2013) by liking Lafayette Lofts on Facebook.

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When the project has been completed it will likely be one of the best adaptive reuse church projects in Buffalo in recent years. Other redevelopments in Buffalo have divided up the sanctuary space and while it created some very unique units, the entire feel of the original building was largely lost. Lafayette Presbyterian is located in an area of prime real estate so these units are in high demand and will probably be snatched up quickly. While other religious properties, particularly those of the east side, may take years before seeing this type of reinvestment if ever, when this project is completed perhaps it will inspire others to reuse their properties in a similar fashion.
For addition photos of my visit to the church including more of the sanctuary space, click here.


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