PORTLAND — The City Council is taking up a controversial request to rezone a historic West End church to allow an office, residences and a community hall.

The request brought out more than 50 people to council chambers.

The Williston-West church at 26-32 Thomas St. was purchased last December for $675,000 by Australian businessman Frank Monsour, who is looking use the parish hall as the U.S. headquarters for his startup technology development company, Global Majella Technologies.

Office uses are not allowed in residential zones. The conditional rezoning would allow Monsour to convert up to 2,800 square feet of the parish hall into office space for no more than 14 employees.

Monsour is also looking to convert the parish hall into one to three residences, one of which would be used by his family when they’re in the U.S.

The 135-year-old church sanctuary would be renovated and possibly used as a community hall. Estimates to restore the sanctuary range from $500,000 top $1 million.

Built in 1877, the church, with buttresses and pointed arches, was designed in the High Gothic Victorian style by Francis Fassett, a prominent architect. In 1904, the 11,000-square-foot Parish House, designed by Portland’s most famous architect, John Calvin Stevens, was added.

The church is currently listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Planning Board held two workshops on the proposal, which elicited about nine hours of public testimony and nearly 100 letters. While the neighborhood is largely split on the issue, those opposing the change gathered 140 signatures.

City planners supported the proposal, and the Planning Board forwarded a positive recommendation by a 5-2 vote last month to the council.