Updated 06/05/2012 10:53 PM
Should a church become a brewery?
Its owners have already sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of repairs into the long vacant St. Joseph Church. Tuesday they introduce an interested buyer to the neighbors. It's the start of a new dialogue. Don't worry. No decision's been made yet. Our Erin Vannella reports.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "It's an absolutely beautiful gothic location with its unique blue tiles on the ceiling, it's just awe inspiring,” said Raven's Head Brewing Owner Brennon Cleary. "Where else can you dine with angels?"
It may be a lofty venture, but Brennon Cleary wants to move his craft brewery into St. Joseph's Church in Albany and current owner, the Historic Albany Foundation, invited him to share that idea with Ten Broeck neighborhood residents Tuesday.
"Obviously I'm trying to convert a landmark into a business, so you're going to face resistance," said Cleary.
A lot of it, as it turns out. Even with intentions to showcase the church's unique architecture and create new jobs and revenue to help the local economy many neighborhoods couldn't see the light.
"I respect that they'd like to run their business, that they love the building," said Ten Broeck Neighborhood resident Nadine Shadlock. "We all love the building. It's a centerpiece of our community, but it's a stunningly bad idea."
Shadlock spoke for a room full of dissenters who questioned parking and noise and drunken behavior.
"It would adversely impact the quality of life for our entire neighborhood which is very much on the upswing," said Shadlock. "It's a treasured and quiet community. It is completely inappropriate."
Others say a profitable new owner beats the vacant alternative and the shallow pocketed Historic Foundation agrees.
"If it happened we would hope to mitigate a lot of those concerns," said Historic Albany Foundation Executive Director Susan Holland. "It needs plumbing. It needs electrical work. It needs lots of those things and the will to do it because you're going to have to be willing to take a little bit of a risk because the building needs a lot of love."