A historic Niagara Street church has been sold, possibly to make way for some type of chocolate factory and museum.
Kevin Keenan, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, confirmed Tuesday the diocese has finalized a deal to sell Our Lady of Lebanon Church at 1120 Niagara St. to a company called World’s Chocolate Heritage, LLC.
The deal comes as the diocese continues to shed properties in Western New York as part of its Journey of Faith and Grace, an ongoing parish reorganization effort.
Our Lady of Lebanon was established as a parish in 1914. Like a number of other parishes in the eight-county Buffalo Catholic Diocese, it had lost numerous members in the past decade or so. By 1991, it had declined to 191 families, compared to St. Joseph’s on Pine Avenue, (1,700 families) and St. Mary of the Cataract on Fourth Street, (1,102), two churches just a few blocks away. For many years, it was staffed by the Congregation of the Mission, the order of priests that operates Niagara University.
The Diocese closed Our Lady of Lebanon in 2008. As part of the Journey of Faith and Grace, the parish was merged with four other east side parishes to form the new Divine Mercy Parish.
Keenan said the church property sold for $130,000 as part of a deal that was completed on Monday. Keenan said proceeds from the sale would go to Divine Mercy Parish. He declined to release information about the purchaser, but indicated the company has expressed an interest in using the property as the site of a chocolate factory, museum and office.
“In all of the properties sold in Niagara Falls, we are always looking for a buyer that can come in and put the property to a good use and we believe that’s the case with this buyer,” Keenan said.
Attempts to contact the buyer through the local realtor that handled the transaction were not successful on Tuesday. The New York State Department of State’s Division of Corporations lists a domestic limited liability company by the name of World’s Chocolate Heritage, LLC with an initial filing date of Oct. 13, 2010. The address listed on behalf of the entity is in New Jersey and the primary contact person is identified as a Min Zu.