Jan 23, 2014

Decree From the Vatican on St. Ann’s Church Potentially Hinders Redevelopment

Parishioners of St. Ann’s Church and Shrine have been successful in their petition to the Vatican to halt the Diocese of Buffalo from demolishing their beloved church on Broadway and Emslie. The Vatican has sided with the parishioners, which is great news for slowing the threat of demolition, but presents a significant challenge to redeveloping the site.

The decree from the Vatican states that the church cannot be used for a “profane” (non-religious) use and any attempts to court a developer for rehabilitating the site for anything else will not be allowed. While the decree adds a layer of protection it also means any plans repurposing the church for a new use are no longer on the table…for now. That does not extend the empty school and convent buildings.

The former school spans the entire width of the block and is completely underutilized
Unhappy with the decision, the Diocese of Buffalo will file an appeal with the highest juridical body within the Vatican. In the mean time the use of the church is now under the discretion of the bishop.

Although the decree seems to throw a wrench in the redevelopment plans, many are hopeful. “I think there are ways that this could work and a good redevelopment project could still happen there,” said Tom Yots of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

He continued, “The negative aspect in this situation is that it will delay things and we feel the project needs to move forward because the building requires stabilization.” Yots went on to say that the Diocese has been very cooperative as the two organizations are working together on a plan for the complex and their discussions have been very open.

For some additional backstory on the situation, check out this link.
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