LPC to Rescind Landmark Status of Demolished Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Site

Posted on: June 11th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Hollowed out by fire exactly three years ago, the Norfolk Street lot that hosted Beth Hamedrash Hagadol for over a century is closer to being de-landmarked. Another step toward massive re-development.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission reportedly voted last month to calendar a rescission vote for 60 Norfolk Street. Meaning, tearing down the protective designation that had been in place for decades, as there is no longer any architectural, historic, or cultural significance onsite.

These types of votes are apparently rare at the LPC, which will hear the case on June 30.

After the fire, May 2017

Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagodol was the first American congregation established by immigrants from the Russian Empire, and was the oldest Russian Orthodox house of worship in the country. The historic Gothic Revival structure it occupied 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 1967 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.”

Membership dwindled over the decades, and the shul finally shut in 2007. Current Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum left the property exposed to the elements, holding out for potential redevelopment. To that end, six years later, he petitioned the city to remove the protective status, but retreated.

Dec. 2010

In May 2017, a teenaged arsonist torched Beth Hamedrash Hagadol. The three-alarm fire was nearly absolute in its destruction, leaving behind one tower and a mountain of rubble. (It took another two years, and the death of a construction worker, for cleanup to complete.)

And a chance for new development.

Photo: Dattner Architects

In April, Dattner Architects filed paperwork to construct the two-tower development known as GO Broome, which sits adjacent to the wall of new buildings that is Essex Crossing. The filing came weeks after City Council approved the rezoning of this parcel to accommodate such a large mass of real estate.

It’s composed of nearly 520,000 square-feet, spread across 488 apartments, commercial retail, and community facilities. Of the unit tally, 115 residences are affordable housing for seniors. There is also a 4,000 square-foot commercial condo for Beth Hamedrash Hagodol.

Recent Stories

Stanton Street 99-Cent Pizzeria Robbed Before Thanksgiving

Another commercial robbery in Hell Square. Last week, just before Thanksgiving, the 99-cent pizzeria at 105 Stanton Street fell victim. Police say that two men busted through the front door and stole money from the cash register ($1,400) as well as an electronic bicycle (valued at $2,400). Both individuals were seen fleeing eastbound on Stanton Street […]

Running for Chinatown Amidst a Pandemic (Again)

For the second time since spring, one Chinatown native is literally stepping up to help the community. Leland Yu, the 28-year-old member of the Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club, returns to the pavement this Saturday for his 12-hour “Run for Chinatown.” The last time around, he clocked an astonishing 61.2 miles, and raised over $18,000. Yu […]

Marriott’s Moxy Hotel on the Bowery Begins 18-Story Ascent

The first elements of the new Moxy hotel on the Bowery are now visible. Peeking above the tattered boards at Bowery is a network of structural steel beams. Department of Buildings signage onsite promises a rather optimistic completion date of “spring 2022.” Given progress thus far, though, meeting the goal seems unrealistic. As reported, the […]

When ‘Forward’ Lit the Way on East Broadway

There was a time when the lights burned bright above East Broadway. And we’re not talking about the sign for 169 Bar. Indeed, the iconic Jewish Daily Forward building at 175 East Broadway – designated a city landmark in 1983 – once boasted rooftop lighting that may have rivaled those of the Atlantic City boardwalk. […]

Dough Pizza Takes Over from ‘Champion’ at Ludlow Residence Dorm

Pizza maven, Famous Hakki Akdeniz recently shut down his Champion Pizza outpost on Ludlow Street. Now, a likeminded successor is ready to swoop in. Dough Pizza, a new pizza business, just signed a lease for the 475 square-foot spot in the base of the School of Visual Arts skyscraper dormitory (aka Ludlow Residence). The restaurant […]