This is the 30-Story Behemoth Replacing Beth Hamedrash Hagadol

Posted on: March 4th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

Southwest corner of Broome and Suffolk, Photo: Gotham Organization

Take a look.

This is the mess of glass replacing the burned-out Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on Norfolk Street.

The new rendering, released by developer Gotham Organization and revealed by City Realty last week, is from the angle of Broome and Suffolk Streets.

(Dattner Architects, whose fingerprints are also on Essex Crossing with The Goldin senior building, is the architect of record.)

As previously reported, the new development at 60 Norfolk spans the block of Broome Street, and is composed of two towers. The first is a 16-story mid-rise (up from ten in the original plan) with 115 affordable apartments for seniors and a 4,000 square-foot commercial condo for Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, both as sanctuary and a Jewish cultural heritage center that can be converted to office space in future. This is built atop the ruined site and will allegedly incorporate elements of the synagogue.

The second contiguous building is a 30-story high-rise with 25% affordable units and a portion of space dedicated to the new flagship headquarters for co-developer Chinese-American Planning Council (owner of the Hong Ning residence next door). It’s built on the parking lot owned by the organization.

What’s rather curious is that this square-footage earmarked for the synagogue could eventually be converted to office space.

Nevertheless, the public review process has begun. City Planning Commission must first approve before construction can begin, currently slated for 2020.

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). In its landmark designation, 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.

May 2015

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