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Savarino buys former St. Clare's, prepares project

Developer Samuel Savarino is pushing ahead with his plan to convert a former church school in the Valley neighborhood into apartments, now that he has taken possession of the building from the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

The Buffalo developer wants to transform the historic four-story stone structure into 11 luxury apartments and a small first-floor office area, creating new options for residents near Larkinville. Savarino, through 169 Elk Street LLC, paid $200,000 to buy the onetime St. Clare Roman Catholic Church school at 169 Elk St. and 57 Euclid St.

The project, which was approved by the city last year, will be known as McDermott Lofts, in honor of Father Eugene McDermott, who founded the former St. Stephens Church on that site in 1879. It will include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with sizes ranging from 800 square feet to 2,000 square feet.

Work on the $1.2 million renovation will begin "immediately," and it's expected to be completed later this year, Savarino said. No changes are planned for the exterior, aside from restoring windows.

The 15,376-square-foot school building was part of the larger St. Clare Parish, which included a church with a rectory, and is located at the intersection with Euclid Place, near the Niagara Thruway interchange with Smith Street. It's a rare example of an existing school that was built before 1900. Its stone facade features narrow-slit windows and a cylindrical tower topped by a conical dome.

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