Rabbi Proposes Demolition of Torched Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on Norfolk Street
It’s not looking good for the once illustrious Beth Hamedrash Hagadol. Mendel Greenbaum, rabbi of the fire-ravaged house of worship, filed an application with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to demolish the centuries-old structure.
There had been plans in the immediate aftermath of the three-alarm blaze, intentionally set by a 14-year-old boy, to potentially rehabilitate the synagogue. That obviously changed after assessing the scope of the damage. Prior to the blaze, restoration of the city landmark was estimated at $4.5 million, an amount that supposedly kept many developers away from the potential project.
Neither Department of Buildings inspectors nor independent consultants have reportedly been able to access the premises, which is collapsed and filled with rubble. But the consensus seems to warrant demolition.
Before this can happen, though, the proposal will first be heard before the Landmarks subcommittee of Community Board 3 tomorrow night. It was a late addition to the June agenda a few days ago.
14-year-old David Diaz set ablaze the 167-year-old Beth Hamedrash Hagadol on May 14. He was arrested days after the massive fire and charged with third-degree arson. A day later, though, the minor was released into parental custody without any charges. His two pals who were with him during the burn job – he allegedly lit a curtain on fire – were considered “witnesses,” according to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
Police also believe that Diaz was likewise behind a small fire at the same synagogue one week earlier (May 7).
You can be sure developers are champing at the bit now…