Excavation Underway for 30-Story Tower at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Site

Posted on: April 13th, 2021 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Roger Bultot

On the backside of Essex Crossing, another gargantuan development is full steam ahead. Poised to cast more shadows.

The excavators have been moving earth at the former Beth Hamedrash Hagadol site on Norfolk Street for over a month. Readying the parcel for the foundation to support a towering development (aka GoBroome) that will ascend thirty stories into the Lower East Side skyline. Pile drivers also made an appearance and continue banging away.

As previously reported, the block-long parcel will sprout two towering buildings. This first phase to see action is 55 Suffolk Street, a thirty-story beast with 378 apartments, one-quarter of which are considered “permanently affordable.” The adjoining affordable development at 64 Norfolk Street is slated to rise sixteen stories, and follow later this spring.

Photo: Dattner Architects

Co-developed by Chinese-American Planning Council nonprofit and the Gotham Organization, the overall project is composed of nearly 520,000 square-feet, spread across 493 apartments, various commercial retail, and community facilities. Of the residential tally, 209 residences are earmarked affordable housing (115 for seniors). There is also a 4,000 square-foot commercial condo for Beth Hamedrash Hagodol.

Landmarked Beth Hamedrash Hagadol burned to the ground in 2017

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 shul 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.”

In May 2017, a teenaged arsonist torched the landmark. The three-alarm fire was absolute in its destruction. There were no charges for the crime.

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