What was once a hot spot in downtown Albany for parties, live bands, and watching the biggest sporting events of the year may soon become a place of worship. Our Maria Valvanis has more on the potential future of Jillian's on North Pearl Street.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "Look around the city, we have a lot of vacancies. A lot of the buildings, we have to be creative in what we use them for," said Susan Holland of Historic Albany.
A not so typical congregation worshipping in a not so typical location. White Couch has been holding services at Jillian's since 2011, with plans to purchase the newly vacated building.
But a couple of weeks ago the city informed them, turning a bar into a church may not be allowed.
'We found out that we were not in compliance with the city, and we do want to be in compliance with the city," said Mike Moore, lead pastor.
Mayor Jerry Jennings said, "It's about public safety, and for them to have a large congregation in that building, we have to go through and inspect it and see how many can be allowed. We have to be worried about something happening."
Since getting the news the church has had to hold their services at the Dream Center on Warren Street. Lead Pastor Michael Moore says he's applied for an occupancy permit change, hoping to be able to follow through with his dreams for the North Pearl St. building.
Moore said, "We talked about a day care, bringing in a cafe, creating a business center, and revitalizing the downtown."
Moore says he has looked at other locations, including St. Joe's, a vacant church less than a mile away. But he says renovations needed on that property would cost three times as much as Jillian's $1.6 million asking price.
"Our goal if we do go through with the purchase of Jillian's and if everything does work out is really to help revive the downtown," said Moore.
Holland said, "Hey, a church wants to go in there and give back to the community and take a building, hallelujah."
Inspections are expected to take place at Jillian's next week.