By Bob Allen

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LAWRENCEVILLE (KDKA) — A dispute is brewing over the proposed demolition of the Holy Family Church in Lawrenceville.

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The church was closed in 2008 and has since been sold by the diocese to a developer.

“It’s become an icon since it was built in the 1930s,” Brian Mendolssohn, of the Lawrenceville Historial Society, said, “and the Polish congregation when they moved to here, the whole neighborhood rallied to build this church in the 1930s.”

The developer is now seeking a permit to demolish the property, including the church, to pave the way for housing.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mayor Bill Peduto and Lawrenceville community groups are opposing the demolition, claiming it violates an agreement to preserve the church, possibly as a historical site.

“There was a good faith agreement between the neighborhood and the developer to re-purpose the church for housing. Unfortunately, this demolish is a violation of that good faith agreement,” Dave Breingan, of Lawrenceville United, said.

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“With local government and local zoning laws, you can’t actually do just anything you want on any piece of property, so he’s going to have to work with the neighbors and the neighborhood in order to figure out the compromise here,” Deb Gross, of Pittsburgh City Council, said.

Since the building was closed, it has fallen into disrepair and has become a nuisance in the community.

“There’s people that were I guess living in the building that [police] pulled out of there,” resident Lisa Dubis said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Neighbors say they just to see changes to improve the site, even if that means demolition.

“I believe that something should happen one way or the other, just not leaving it vacant, leaving an empty building or empty space in an up-and-coming Lawrenceville,” resident Hunter Stokes said.

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KDKA-TV made several attempts to contact the developers for their side of the story, but they have not yet responded.