Plan to convert Kenmore Presbyterian Church to apartments aims to preserve building’s history | Business premises
Kenmore Presbyterian Church does not look like a typical church with a large edifice, steeple, spire and steeple, nor is it adorned with any religious iconography that usually denotes such a structure – at the exception of a single giant cross at the corner of Delaware and Parkwood avenues.
But that may not matter to future residents who will live in the nearly century-old building, instead of praying there.
Savarino Cos. purchases the iconic century-old beige brick church building that has housed the 128-year-old congregation since 1926. Located on 1.21 acres at 2771 Delaware in the Village of Kenmore, the three-story rectangular building is near the border with Buffalo and within walking distance of various restaurants, shops, cafes and other businesses.
The building is under contract, with Savarino hoping to complete the deal by the end of the year, pending approval from the state attorney general’s office due to the church’s status as a religious entity. non-profit. The developer then plans to spend 10 to 12 months renovating and converting the 38,285-square-foot building into 35 market-priced apartments, including two-story loft-style units with unique features, said Robert Savarino, vice president of the company.
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Specifically, he said, draft plans for adaptive reuse call for 24 one-bedroom units and 11 two-bedroom units, as well as some small commercial spaces in front of the building along the Delaware. The developer also plans to reduce the amount of parking and impermeable surface by inserting landscaped islands and shrubbery into the 60-space parking lot, reducing it to 39 spaces.
Savarino won’t disclose the purchase price because the deal isn’t done yet, and he noted plans are still in the engineering and design phase, so total costs aren’t final. But he predicted that the whole business would top $10 million.
However, despite the building’s age, he said the developer was not claiming state and federal historic tax credits to cover expenses because “it becomes problematic when you rehabilitate a church.” In such situations, for example, the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office generally want the chapel to remain intact.
But that would make Savarino’s plans impossible as he intends to create two-story, one-bedroom lofts with a central hallway inside the sanctuary.
So the developer intends instead to “honor” the exterior of the building, Savarino said. Crews will join brick, replace damaged front commercial facade and replace glass on building facade. More importantly, he said, the developer will remove the large-bay stained glass windows from the exterior of the building, replace them with clear glass and install them instead inside the central hallway of the sanctuary.
Savarino will also integrate the church lighting inside the hallway.
“What makes this project unique is that we want to be good stewards of church history,” he said.
The once thriving and growing congregation has shrunk in size in recent years and now only has one Sunday morning service, so the huge building is underutilized, Savarino said. Instead of keeping it, he explained, the church – led by the Reverend Rebecca Chaffee – put it up for sale through Waterbourne Real Estate Advisors for $1.5million while seeking a new, smaller location from which to continue to serve Kenmore, Tonawanda and North Buffalo.
The project received preliminary site plan and conceptual design approval earlier this week from the village planning board, but has yet to receive final approval.
“It’s a beautiful project and a fantastic location, driven by its ease of walking,” Savarino said. “The village has been very supportive so far.”