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See the latest designs for turning a historical South Wedge church into a hotel and banquet hall

A rendering shows the banquet hall inside the proposed Hotel St. Andrew on Averill Avenue.
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A rendering shows the banquet hall inside the proposed Hotel St. Andrew on Averill Avenue.

Plans to convert a historical church in Rochester’s South Wedge into a boutique hotel and banquet space are up for review.

The city’s Preservation Board has a hearing set for Wednesday that could give the $2.5 million project a final go-ahead — and give Calvary St. Andrews on Averill Avenue a new life.

Plans call for an 11-room boutique hotel and the re-use of the chapel and sanctuary for banquet and possible restaurant space.

With the plans come some concerns. The building has been designated a landmark. And neighbors have raised worries about parking and noise.

“It's a difficult needle to thread,” said Patrick Dutton, who is part of a development team that includes his uncle Gary and cousin Luke. "You have this residential neighborhood, you have this historic building with all these unique characteristics, many of which cannot be altered, right?

“So you have like a challenge with repurposing a church facility that will no longer be a church.”

If the project is approved, developers hope to begin work in the spring and open by mid-2025.

The Duttons are more accustomed to repurposing old and sometimes dilapidated buildings for apartments and commercial uses. This is their first church, and their first hotel project. And they have been working at it now for more than a year.

“You're creating a business here,” Dutton said. “And it's taken us longer to get our minds around the fact that this is a hospitality business. And it needs to be exceptional in every way.”

The restaurant component will be open to the public in some capacity. That is required to get a hotel liquor license. But what that looks like is still unclear.

“Is it Sunday brunch? Is it just breakfast?” Dutton said. “We're still working on that business model. But it's opportunities. It's not limitations.”

It’s also uncertainty.

Developers plan to turn a vacant church in the South Wedge into a hotel, wedding venue and banquet hall.

The project has cleared state historical preservation review and is awaiting federal signoff. The local landmark designation came about a few years ago. And next week will be the Preservation Board’s first look at the project, Dutton said.

“So both (the) interior and the exterior part of this building has some level of protections,” Dutton said. “But those protections aren't known, nor are they described. So you're kind of going into this not knowing how the Preservation Board is going to respond, because there aren't really a set of guidelines that you need to adhere to.

"It’s kind of a weird deal.”

Dutton isn’t just looking to history. He also is looking to the future with plans to install a geothermal heating and cooling system, and a parking lot that is part concrete, part grass, allowing drainage onsite. The concrete forms a grid with grass growing protected in between.

Those wanting a closer look at the plans can attend an open house and Q&A from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the church, 95 Averill Ave.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.