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West Main Street church is structurally sound, says new report


An independent analysis has determined that the vacant church at 660 West Main Street is structurally sound. The analysis was commissioned by the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association and funded by the Landmark Society.

The former Westminster Presbyterian Church is at the center of a preservation battle. Church owner Marvin Maye 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 for an indoor mall or west-side performance space.

Maye has maintained that the building is beyond saving, and has submitted reports 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."

Meives says the building does have maintenance issues and that "the interior space is pretty rough at this point."

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

Meanwhile, Maye will be in front of the city's Zoning Board on March 21 to appeal the church's designation as a building of historic value.