Buffalo Christian Center to close; property sold to Ellicott

August 7, 2014 Updated Aug 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM EDT

By David Bertola, Buffalo Business First

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Buffalo Christian Center to close; property sold to Ellicott

August 7, 2014 Updated Aug 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM EDT

After selling its building, creating a new foundation and spinning off its top programs, Buffalo Christian Center is closing.

Last year, new Buffalo Christian Center leadership examined how its building at 512 Pearl Street could be leveraged to accomplish the organization's mission of serving local at-risk youth through its myriad programs. In doing so, it was determined that the building would need more than $5 million in renovations. Leadership met with industry experts, community leaders and donors about doing so, and a consulting group created a plan to account for large capital expenditures to pay for renovations.

After determining that the level of impact on the community wouldn't correlate with the amount needed to modernize the building, and that raising $5 million was unlikely, it was decided to sell their building at 512 Pearl Street in Buffalo.

Leadership had considered other options once it moved, including relocating, merging and dissolving. Ultimately, it was decided to spin off its three primary programs to other organizations. Proceeds of the building's sale to Ellicott Development Co. allowed the center to create the YouthTime Foundation with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to continue serving at-risk youth. The deal is expected to close next week, and the sale price was not disclosed.

Moving forward, YouthTime will grant money to Buffalo organizations with missions focused on youth.

Ellicott Development President and CEO William Paladino said that the building has historic value. And while they haven't decided what they'll do with it after the deal closes, Paladino said the company will seek state and federal historic tax credits for whatever they choose.

"We have some ideas; it may tie in with other things we have planned in the same area," he said, adding that an ample parking lot is a draw in an area where parking can be a challenge.

The building includes a Forbes Theater, a roller rink, basketball court and swimming pool.

"We'll probably keep some of those, most likely the Forbes Theater and pool, but it all really depends on our final plans," he said.

No time frame has been set for redevelopment, or whether it will be mixed use with commercial and residential components or more residential than commercial.

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