Developers Looking to Destroy More of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol

Posted on: October 1st, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Talk about beating a dead horse. The half-demolished, destabilized structure formerly known as Beth Hamedrash Hagadol might soon lose more of its carcass.

As presented to Community Board 3 in January of this year, the plan is to incorporate the charred synagogue remains into a larger, two-towered development in conjunction with developer Gotham Organization and the Chinese-American Planning Council. Footprint of the new project – an “intergenerational community anchored by neighborhood retail and community facility tenants” – spans the full block of Broome Street from Norfolk to Suffolk Street, and comprises both mid-rise (10 stories) and high-rise (30 stories) pieces. It’ll occupy the parking lot of the Hong Ning senior living next door (managed by CPC) and the synagogue site.

Now, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, under the auspices of Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum, is applying to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to remove “portions” of the fire-scorched structure to create a “new modern style apartment building.” (Presumably more of the structure was deemed unstable.) Hearing for this proposal is slated for tomorrow afternoon.

Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagodol was the first American congregation established by immigrants from the Russian Empire, making it the oldest Russian Orthodox house of worship in the country. The historic Gothic Revival synagogue in which it resided was built in 1850 as a Baptist church and purchased by the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol congregation in 1885 for $45,000 (about $1.2 million today). The New York City Landmarks Commission found that “Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City.”

Vacant and derelict since 2007, it burned down in a three-alarm inferno on Mother’s Day 2017. While many in the neighborhood still believe the fire was “suspicious,” authorities later arrested a 14-year-old 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.

Recent Stories

Bagatelle Managers Seek ‘Highlife’ for the Bowery

GupShup owner Jimmy Rizvi isn’t headed to the Bowery, after all. His bid for another Indian restaurant at 245 Bowery failed this fall. Rizvi’s application for full liquor was heard by Community Board 3 back in September, but was instructed to return as the application was incomplete and further outreach needed. His no-show one month […]

Remodeled Seward Park Reopens to the Public

The remodeled Seward Park is now open to the public. Completed in just about six months, this $6.4 million capital works project refreshed many of the deteriorating conditions of the park. And in arguably record timing. Improvements include new park furnishings, equipment, expanded garden area, and renovated library plaza. Yet probably the most significant change […]

The Beatles are Headed to SoHo with New ‘Thread Shop’ Pop-Up

The Beatles are headed to SoHo. Last week, the music press at large revealed that Sony Music Entertainment secured the North American merchandising rights to the Fab Four, and that a holiday pop-up is underway. The lucky neighborhood chosen for this marketing stunt is SoHo. The new store will be temporarily headquartered at 163 Mercer […]

Another Events Space Called SOMMwhere Rises on Ludlow Street

Once an events space, always an event space. That’s the story at 48 Ludlow Street where a new one just opened. What was the Koala Farm studio for a brief moment is now SOMMwhere. It opened last weekend, pitching itself as a “stylish and sustainable escape” for your next shindig. The media advisory is longer […]

Croman’s Amato Opera Building on the Bowery Welcomes ‘Kissaki’ Sushi Next Month

The onetime Amato Opera on the Bowery – renovated and upscaled years ago – will get a high-end sushi restaurant called Kissaki. Eater reported this week that former Gaijin chef-owner Mark Garcia is behind the 26-seat Omakase venture at 319 Bowery. The Omakase menu will cost $160 for twelve pieces of Nigiri and four kaiseki-style […]