Demolition Approved for Surviving Tower of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Deemed Unsafe

Posted on: June 28th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

There is nothing left to save of the burned-out Beth Hamedrash Hagadol on Norfolk Street. The city determined this week that the remaining structure, further destabilized by sitting exposed for two years after the fire, is not fit for restoration.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans to demolish the surviving south tower, which city officials had hoped to incorporate into the new two-towered development planned for the site.

City engineers subsequently surveyed the wreckage and concluded that the structure was simply too badly damaged to remain standing, according to a report in Curbed. And that it’s now a “public safety risk.” LPC vice chair Frederick Bland told the publication that, although it is a shame to have lost the synagogue, the charred carcass presents an “exciting physical design challenge” for the developers.

Photo: Gotham Organization

That challenge is part of a new project – 60 Norfolk Street – that will take up a whole block. Co-developed by the Gotham Organization and the Chinese American Planning Council, the massive building is comprised 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. 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 the Council (owner of the Hong Ning residence next door). It’s built on the parking lot owned by the organization.

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 LPC 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.”

Now it’s rubble.

Recent Stories

Taco Mix Opens Lower East Side Restaurant on Delancey Street

Taco Mix just launched its newest city outpost. Headquartered on Delancey Street, the fast casual establishment is a year in the making, and began serving last week. Founded on 116th Street in 1991, Taco Mix is known for its al pastor tacos, and considered by many as one of the city’s best. The Spanish Harlem-based […]

Street Artist Fixes ‘27 Club’ Mural on Rivington Street

Friends don’t let friends have their murals tagged without recourse. For the “27 Club” piece on Rivington Street, it meant Hektad to the rescue. You’ll recall that earlier this month, a group of no-name taggers scrawled over the headshots painted by Eduardo Kobra. This action prompted a response letter from the community about how amateur […]

Local 138 Reopens on Friday with New Orchard Street Bar

It took four months, but the reboot of Local 138 is days from opening at its new Orchard Street home. Local 138, which had occupied its namesake Ludlow address since 1996, announced the closure and move and impending move to 181 Orchard back in January. Work has been underway since. A downsizing not entirely its […]

NYPD Shut Down Adidas 99-Cent Sneaker Stunt on the Bowery Yesterday After it Turned Violent

Police yesterday morning shut down an out-of-control Bowery pop-up selling a limited-edition sneaker collaboration between adidas and AriZona Iced Tea. The huge crowds were the collective answer to the question, what happens when you sell a rare sneaker for 99 cents? The collaboration yielded two limited-quantity styles – Yung 1 and Continental. Both were available […]

Watch this Brazen Tagger Desecrate Louis Vuitton Logo on Ludlow Street

It’s clear that the locals aren’t too thrilled with the invasive Louis Vuitton pop-up at Ludlow and Rivington Streets. And one brazen tagger proved it. Midday Wednesday, a youngster jumped onto the building’s garbage bin and quickly spray-painted over the company logo. The graffiti lasted for a couple hours before it was buffed away. As […]