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Report: West Main church can be saved

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A new analysis reportedly concludes that the vacant church at 660 West Main Street is structurally sound. The evaluation was commissioned by the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association and funded by the Landmark Society.

Dawn Noto, president of the association, would not release the report until city officials have had a chance to review it.

The former Westminster Presbyterian Church has been at the center of a preservation battle. Church owner Marvin Maye, who didn't return a call for comment, wants to tear down the 19th-century church and an adjoining house to build a Dollar General store and two additional commercial spaces. The church is in the Neighbors United neighborhood in southwest Rochester, bordering the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood and Bulls Head.

Some neighbors and neighborhood groups say Maye's proposal doesn't fit with the revitalization happening in that area of West Main. They want to find a new use for the church, such as an indoor mall or west-side performance space.

Maye has maintained that the building is beyond saving and has given the city an evaluation from his own team of professionals to back that up. But the new analysis proves that the building can be brought back, says Caitlin Meives, preservation planner with the Landmark Society.

"The building is not a threat to the general public," she says. "It's not going to fall over. There's no structural reason the building can't be rehabbed."

The report says that the majority of structural rehabilitation costs would be to repair the building's brick exterior, Noto says.

The report does not include a cost estimate for rehabbing the church, Meives says.

Meanwhile, Maye will be in front of the city's Zoning Board on March 21 to appeal the city's designation of the church as a building of historic value. The designation makes Maye's path to getting the church demolished more difficult.

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