Brewery plan for St. Joseph's update

Ravens Head Brewing -- the company that wants to open a brewery and restaurant in the former St. Joseph's church in Albany -- has gone ahead with applying for a zoning variance, which it would need for the project, JCE reports. The hearing for the variance will probably include opposition to the plan from some neighborhood members. In the meantime, it looks like the Ravens Head is setting up a temporary operation in Kinderhook. [TU] [Ravens Head Facebook] Earlier: Is St. Joseph's Church a brewery in its next life?


"Councilman Ron Bailey, who represents the surrounding 3rd Ward, said he and other residents plan to oppose the project, citing among other things the parking snarls they fear it would cause."

Sounds like a real bright fellow.

No doubt is it upsetting to hear that the neighborhood is hung up on the [legitimate] worry of congestion, it's holding them back from admiring the efforts for the adaptive reuse of such a gorgeous building. I'm all in, though I've relocated to West Virginia. Keep us posted AOA. I'd love to hear about any future meetings, hearings, releases, etc. about this.

Also for anyone interested, here is a link to the notes taken from Raven's Head's meeting with the community, from HAF's website.

They'll be parking around an empty lot if they keep this up.

Well I guess it's better then tearing it down and putting in a beautiful Price Chopper which would certainly add to the traffic folks. Trust me the people that drink craft beer aren't the a**hole in the SUNY ghetto. When is the last time you heard about a fight at Albany Pump Station it's a different clientele.
Here's a building that would be put back on the tax roll why wouldn't we welcome business in today's economy. Everybody says not in my back yard well folks you choose to live in a city if you want peace and quite how about moving to beautiful Clifton Park then you have plenty of parking along with the white picket fence. This is what's wrong with America everybody fighting new business shame on everybody that appose new business.

I feel like perhaps commenters on this thread have not actually seen St. Joseph's location. It literally is in most of this neighborhood's front yards. The plan is to open a brewpub, not just a brewery. The neighbors would have been much more receptive to a brewery alone. However a brewpub and restaurant open until 11pm every weeknight and 2am on weekdays will fundamentally change the nature of this four street wide neighborhood which right now is very residential. Jon's point that we chose to live in the city is just a totally incomplete commentary, we chose to live in this particular neighborhood of the city for its unique characteristics - it is convenient walking distance to downtown without having the noise, congestion, parking and crime issues of Center Square or Quail Street area. We chose Ten Broeck because it is unique, and it is residential. So of course we are disappointed with this choice of a neighbor - which will be open to late every night, so close to all of our homes. Most of my neighbors are passionate about the triangle, and about Albany urban living. We want St. Joe's to have a new life. Just not this life. There is not a place to buy fresh food anywhere in Arbor Hill - why not invite a farmer's market? Or office space? I respect the situation that Historic Albany is in, I have nothing but respect for their hard working staff who are trying so hard to engage our community, but please don't throw around judgements without understanding how fundamentally putting this pub in the middle of our neighborhood will change all of our quality of lives, and property values.

Jenna - Although I'm sure everyone respects that you'd like to keep your neighborhood exactly as it is, your expectations just aren't realistic. If the Catholic Church decided the place was too expensive to keep up, if HAF needs to raise millions of dollars just to maintain the building as it is, how is something like a farmer's market going to keep the building standing? Right now, people from outside of your neighborhood are paying to keep that building from being not only an eyesore but a danger. That won't happen forever, and whether the neighbors like it or not, without action your neighborhood will change for the worse, when eventually the building simply falls apart. Recognize that few people are going to be able to pay to keep up this sort of building, and work with those who do have that ability to make the solution workable for everyone. You aren't likely to find another option.

"why not invite a farmer's market? Or office space?"

The economic reality is that a farmer's market would not generate nearly enough revenue to maintain the building. Besides, all a farmer's market needs is a tent and a sidewalk. There is a huge amount of vacancy in class C office space. Somewhere around 40% in Albany?

It all really depends on how the owners of the establishment run it. If it's an unruly party bar, then that will definitely have a negative impact on the neighborhood. If it's a classy, upscale establishment, it could be a drawing point. We lived in a residential neighborhood in Syracuse with a wine bar tucked in among the residences. It was never a detriment; in fact having people come and go and out on the street was often a benefit. And to some extent it set the tone for a neighborhood that was definitely on the fringe at the time.

That said, I'm still dreaming of someone opening something in downtown Albany that isn't about drinking.

Ages ago I advocated that it become a branch of the Albany Public Library, but since that didn't pan out, I'm open. I'm not a resident of that neighborhood, but I am a resident of Center Square, so I understand the concerns on both ends of the aisle. Parking, bar noise and rowdy foot traffic are a legitimate concern, and having a nightlife scene so close to a residential zone is tricky, but I'm not convinced that barring the brew pub from opening is the way to go. The positive impact for the city could outweigh the negatives. It will create jobs, revenue and taxes that the city so desperately needs, especially the downtown area. John was right about the fact that this isn't going to be another Jillians; brew pubs tend to draw a more reserved clientele, but I understand that it may be erroneous to generalize. This is a tough one.

There are many ways to make this plan work. For example, the hours of the restaurant could be abbreviated to accommodate the neighbors and off site parking with shuttle transport would keep the parking and congestion issues at bay.

St Josephs Church is an architectural gem in the Albany skyline; it would be a shame if one day it had to be torn down due to it deteriorating into ruins.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

There seem to be 2 areas of argument at work here.

1. Opponents to the project, mainly residents of the Ten Broeck area who believe that this project would have a detrimental effect on their neighborhood and lifestyle.

2. Supporters of the project who believe that this is the only way to save the building.

To be honest, I find it surprising how heated these discussions have become. Very few people outside of the residents of the area, the Ravens Head owners, and those who are part of Historic Albany have an actual stake in what becomes of this proposed project.

It's almost like people LIKE arguing?!?!

Neighbors of St. Joseph's should consider themselves lucky. At least the owners of that building want to use it for something. If they think this is bad, they should move up the river to Watervliet, where the owners of St. Patrick's desperately want to tear it down and build a supermarket in its place, which will replace the supermarket that's a few short blocks away. I echo Kamran's words: "Recognize that few people are going to be able to pay to keep up this sort of building, and work with those who do have that ability to make the solution workable for everyone. You aren't likely to find another option."


Do you live in Albany? Do the high number of vacant properties bother you? Do you pay property taxes? Does unemployment and economic vitality bother you? Do you know how much city, state grant, and private equity has been leveraged to save this building?

This goes beyond NIMBYism and affiliations. Residents of Albany chant "jobs" "walkable neighborhoods" "reduce the property tax burden" and "increase opportunities for local economic development" so much it might as well be the city motto.

A project comes forward that addresses some of the most critical needs in this city and what crops up? Local backlash about issues that can be worked out in permitting, operations, and enforcement of the new business.

And the parking argument. Ugh. People need to get a grip. Visit a city where parking abounds because no one wants to park their car there - that's coincidentally a place no one wants to live, either. I'll show you a city with REAL issues, not "How dare you make it more difficult to leave my personal property where I want it on public land"

It's as if we're on the deck of the Titanic talking about ditching more lifeboats.

I am a resident of the Ten Broeck Triangle. I own a home across the street from the Church. This is not a small scale operation like a small wine bar or anything of that caliber. This is a proposed brewery with large scale distribution plans. It is a 17,000 square foot proposed factory with restaurant attached for easy permitting.

Please come visit our neighborhood. Visit the Mansion, stop by Stage 1, have a beer at McGreays or the English Pub, see a show at the Palace. All within walking distance of my home. All great assets to the neighborhood. See our gorgeous row homes, experience our beautiful parks. This is not a sinking neighborhood that needs a 17,000 square foot bar to save it.

How would you propose the issue of absolutely no parking, noise, smells, deliveries, and increase in traffic and resources be addressed by permitting? By what, making it so the business can't actually succeed anyway?

The infrastructure in the neighborhood cannot withstand this proposed use, we don't hate progress, we are the ones actually making it. Working hard to save the neighborhood, restore historic homes, cleaning parks, taking an active role in our communities.

Also St. Patricks is in a developing commercial strip in Watervliet. Not in the middle of a bunch of people's homes.

I could go on and on. But I can assue you that our neighborhood is not missing a 17,000 sq foot bar/factory to make it perfect.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Civil War walking tour of Albany Rural Cemetery

The Albany Rural Cemetery has a Civil War walking tour August 4. Tour blurbage: Mark Bodnar, known as "The Civil War Guy" at Albany Rural,... (more)

What qualifies as the Capital Region?

What or where is the Capital Region? Should be a few core counties? The entire "commuting shed" for people who work here? A broad economic... (more)

Toasting the Past and Present of Arbor Hill

This Thursday is the 12th birthday party for the Albany Barn (with food, drinks, music, and art), and the Ten Broeck Mansion is also hosting... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: guns, crosswalks, a bad case of the selfies, a gravel grinder,... (more)

A very animated explainer about ticks

This might not be the claymation that we want, but it's the claymation that we need. The clip embedded above is a short claymation explainer... (more)

Recent Comments

I frequently find myself along this trail on Sunday mornings, hungry, & very little is open. There's a lot of talk about special mowers & building bathrooms & that's nice, yes, let's do that, certainly. But *right now* people using this trail are hungry & want to buy food & drink (& use the bathroom, as a paying customer): if the businesses that are already there were OPEN it would go a long way to providing amenities & destinations. ...

Historic brewing district tours of Albany

...has 3 comments, most recently from Colin

A very animated explainer about ticks

...has 1 comment, most recently from Jamie

Shmaltz is selling its brewery

...has 2 comments, most recently from Sean

The Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail is set to get a new paved section this summer, and a few more bits about its future

...has 4 comments, most recently from Sean

E-bikes stretch the idea of what a bike can be in interesting ways, but they're stuck in a gray area here in New York

...has 8 comments, most recently from Russell Nelson