Niagara Catholic closure draws parents' ire

The former Niagara Catholic school in Niagara Falls.

NIAGARA FALLS — The former Niagara Catholic Junior-Senior High School building will continue to have a faith-based purpose under its expected new owners.

Diocese of Buffalo spokeswoman Kathy Spangler recently confirmed the 66th Street scholastic campus will be purchased by The Chapel at CrossPoint, an Erie County-based megachurch with four locations and a headquarters in the hamlet of Getzville.

The Niagara Falls Campus Pastor, Johnathan Drake, leads worship services for about 250 parishoners in the Cataract City on Sundays at Regal Cinemas theater, 720 Builders Way. Drake said Monday the chapel expects the Falls congregation to continue to grow.

"They’re so excited to have their church in their hometown," Drake said.

Drake is an pastoral alum of the chapel's City of Lockport location on Walnut Street, the congregation he headed before transitioning to western Niagara County as services were established in the area. Other church locations include ministries in the Towns of Cheektowaga and Amherst.

A sales contract has been signed but steps remain before the property is officially transferred, according to Spangler.

Drake said the church is still in the due diligence phase of the transaction. Officials with the ministry do not expect to find anything that would inhibit the sale, which is expected to close by late summer, he said.

The site includes a pair of buildings covering about 85,000 square feet, according to the diocese. Part of that area will house the altar and congregation meeting area, but like the chapel's other locations, the space will allow for community partnerships.

At least one potential connection could exist with the Niagara Community Center, which sits adjacent to the old school campus and offer youth programming.

"We’ve got a lot of partnerships that use are other facilities currently," Drake said.

A purchase price has not yet been made public.

The buildings were originally marketed by the diocese for $1.15 million. The Niagara Falls City School District explored acquisition last year but ultimately declined to submit an offer.

Niagara Catholic abruptly closed last summer. The decision was a result of budget cuts, according to board members and administrators at the school. The school, which had existed in the city in multiple forms and under different names for decades, was one of seven diocesan affiliated schools to suffer cutbacks in 2018.

Niagara Catholic Principal and President Robert Cluckey described the decision as “a very sad but realistic one, given the economics and stark realities of financial factors and enrollment trends in Niagara County.”

Recommended for you