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The controversy surrounding a historic church on the city's west side has outlived the church itself, which burned in a three-alarm job late last month. The building was torn down.

The former Westminster Presbyterian Church at 660 West Main had been the focus of a tug of war between, on one side, the building's owner, Marvin Maye, and his supporters, and, on the other side, some neighbors and preservationists who wanted to save the church. (Maye could not be reached for comment on this story.)

Maye finally got permission from the City of Rochester in August 2014 to tear down the church for a grocery store, if he meets a handful of conditions. The big one: proof that he has the financial backing for the project, and that he sticks to the grocery-store plan. (At one time, Maye wanted to put a Dollar General on the site.)

But nothing happened on the property until the fire.

City spokesperson Jessica Alaimo says that the terms for the demolition permit no longer apply since the church is gone. But the project still has conditions attached, she says.

"Most importantly, the development must be a single-tenant, full-line grocery store with one public entrance," she says.

The fire has been labeled suspicious, according to the Rochester Fire Department, because the church was vacant and lacked utilities when it burned.


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