Churches to Condos- Not a Novel Phenomenon
Across the country as congregations move out developers are moving in, converting houses of worship into, well, houses. Conversion projects have been completed in Denver, Baltimore, Boston, and many other cities over the past twenty years. When considering new life for a former church, residential is not the first use that comes to mind, but it certainly makes sense where the market will support it. Developers can produce an interesting housing option for city dwellers who want to shun the cookie-cutter feeling of a new-build complex. The clinchers generally are high ceilings and windows with a deep layout that will allow for creative design. Their size and open design allow developers to carve out multiple level units with towering ceilings and arched windows running the height of the condominium.
Buffalo joined the church-to-home trend in 1994 when developer Robert Priore converted the Full Gospel Tabernacle at 231 Richmond into Bryant Parish Commons. The $1.7 million conversion created 16 condominiums, some two stories tall, including indoor parking in the basement. Resale units are typically priced from $110,000 to $190,000. SEB Development is converting a former church on Tacoma Avenue into the Lofts at North Park. Work there is expected to be completed in July.
While the exterior hasn't changed much at Bryant Parish Commons, the Riverdale Presbyterian Church in the Greektown section of Toronto shows a more drastic transformation. Erected in 1920, the cavernous building was retrofitted in the late-1990's into 32 multi-level loft residences. At this ambitious conversion, windows and patios were punched through the roof, skylights were added, and decks and patios were inserted where soaring two-story windows once stood. The development, called The Glebe, is located at 662 Pape Avenue near Danforth.
The attraction of a church conversion is the location, the space and the uniqueness. Most loft developments occur in industrial buildings located on the city's fringes. But churches sit in the heart of communities, often on leafy residential streets. With a multitude of surplus churches expected due to the Catholic Diocese's restructuring, we may be seeing additional sacred places becoming living spaces.
Photo Credit: Joan Fedyszyn