The Diocese of Buffalo and Preservation Buffalo Niagara (PBN) have engaged in a collaborative effort to find a reuse for the St. Ann’s Church Campus. Demolition of the iconic structure has been placed on hold as the two entities work together to find a buyer with an appropriate plan for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the site. Selling is now officially an option back on the table.
Tom Yots, executive director of PBN, leveraged his long time relationship with the spokesman of the Diocese, Kevin Keenan to discuss saving the church. “We’re at this point because Tom picked up the phone and got in touch with me,” said Keenan, “Tom got in touch with me last Wednesday and the following day we had a meeting with the Bishop to discuss pursing reuse options.”
At this time there is an interested entity, but others are being courted as alternatives to ensure all options are considered. “Right now the plan to demolish St. Ann’s is on hold while we explore an opportunity to redevelop the complex,” said Keenan. The complex includes not only the church, but also the adjacent convent, and massive school to the rear of the property. In the ideal scenario all buildings would be rehabilitated and the church would be supported by the new uses in the ancillary buildings.
|Former St. Ann's school behind the church|
“If the church is indeed sold, it will not be used as a Catholic church again. It is possible that another religious denomination may reuse the church, but that would be up to the new owner. For the time being all artifacts will remain in place, but in the future the shrine to St. Ann will be removed and relocated so devotions to St. Ann can continue at another worship site,” explained Keenan.
|Cornerstone of the school|
While a definitive deadline for pursuing the reuse option has not been established, both PBN and the Diocese do not want a long drawn out process. “It is to the community’s benefit to work as quickly as possible,” explained Yots, “PBN plays an informative role in the community about historic preservation and we will be providing updates regularly.”
The next step is bringing in a third party to analyze the existing structural reports that were previously completed and a new structural assessment will be performed.