Lectures and Other Events

Adaptive Reuse of Religious Properties Conference


Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, Buffalo


Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, Buffalo


Overit Media, former St. Theresa of Avila, Albany

March, 2013

The Conservancy co-sponsored the first comprehensive conference in the country devoted to the economic benefits of adaptively reusing former religious properties on March 6-7. Church and synagogue closure is a national issue and no New York community is exempt.

Some 75 elected and government officials, developers, clergy, denominational real estate staff, planners, architects, entrepreneurs and preservationists shared success stories and heard that investing in former religious buildings often spurred additional economic development in an area.

Among the projects presented were the conversion of a former Albany Roman Catholic church into new headquarters for a web design and development company; the conversion of a 1920’s community wing of a Buffalo Presbyterian church into rental apartments and the upcoming conversion of a former Harlem Catholic church into apartments and community space.

Keynote speakers Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and Michael Sriprasert, president of the Foundation’s development corporations, showed numerous former Pittsburgh religious institutions that now house everything from restaurants to event spaces.

Tuomi Forest of Partners for Sacred Places noted that the number of vacant religious properties would substantially increase in the coming decade, making this conference especially important and timely.

Speakers suggested making it easier to get Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits for adapting religious buildings and creating a central data base of religious properties for sale. They also encouraged State economic development officials to actively promote adaptive reuse of former religious buildings as part of the overall State marketing campaign.

Controversial development proposals for two Albany area churches have generated wide press coverage in the Capital District and were the impetus for the conference. John Nigro of Nigro Companies, Inc. and preservationist Matthew Bender, both of Albany underwrote the conference, which was held at the Carey Conference Center for Global Good near Albany. The Center was co-sponsor.

Read more about the conference from the Times Union Thursday, March 7, 2013

Saving old churches is their goal
Preservationists meet to forge plan for future uses of ex-church buildings
By Kenneth C. Crowe II

For more information about our Sacred Sites Program please contact Ann Friedman, Sacred Sites Program director, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)