Towering over the modest residences in its vicinity, the soaring blue limestone, and Ohio sandstone-faced Roman Catholic church is one of the most recognizable symbols of Albany, New York’s rich history. It’s also one of the most endangered.
Closed since 1994, St. Joseph’s Church has remained remarkably intact. When the parish shuttered the building, it had $2 million in deferred maintenance, including cracked stained glass, a leaking roof, and a stone foundation that was cracking.
Over time, that’s led to some of the mammoth marble columns shifting, but those have been shored up with steel anchors. A new roof was installed and the flooring stabilized so that artisan events could be held inside.
Throughout the years, various rehabilitation proposals were floated for St. Joseph’s. One motion centered around the building’s reuse into an events center, but complaining residents brought up parking concerns — which apparently were not of a concern when the church was full of worshippers.
Another bid centered around the conversion of the church into a microbrewery, similar to Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The neighborhood brought up overblown concerns of drunken douchebaggery which simply do not happen en masse at the Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh.
And now the neighborhood is concerned that business concerns in the church could lead to the area gentrifying. Because nothing drags down a neighborhood more than a giant, derelict church.
And so, the church remains derelict without a future and with little hope of reuse as long as the neighborhood sees any potential reuse as a symbol of prosperity.