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Hook & Ladder considers brewery for South Buffalo church

The trio of South Buffalo firefighters who own Hook & Ladder Development are now exploring the possibility of putting a brewery in the former St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church that they acquired on Seneca Street.

But only if the Catholic Diocese gives its blessing.

Peter Scarcello Jr., one of the three partners in the firm, said the group is "still considering options" for St. John and another church that they acquired, but brought in a marketing firm "to see if we can't land a brewery looking to expand in the Buffalo area."

That could be hindered by standard deed restrictions that the Catholic Diocese includes on all sales of former churches, which limit how the properties can be used in the future. But Scarcello said the diocese "will make exceptions if a restriction is in place but you can provide them a certain level of detail of what you want to accomplish."

"They will remove that restriction if it's a tasteful amenity you're looking to provide," he said. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Overall plans for the building, located at 2315 Seneca, include four first-floor commercial units and 12 residential loft apartments ā€“ with hardwood floors, granite countertops and ceramic tile finishes ā€“ overlooking the street and Cazenovia Park.

Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler said they have not been contacted yet by Hook & Ladder about future development of the church. "We will, however, reach out to them," she said.

Meanwhile, the development team is finishing up its renovations of 1994 Seneca, at the corner of Hayden Street. The two-story building includes a large first-floor commercial space, where Hook & Ladder hopes to bring in a diner or cafe-style restaurant. As with most of the firm's 13 other properties, the second floor would house apartments.

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