A Hagadol Deal

Senior housing to rise around fire-ravaged Lower East Side synagogue

East News
Senior housing to rise around fire-ravaged Lower East Side synagogue. Aerial view of Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue after the fire. (Courtesy HLZA/Image via LPC)

Developer Gotham Organization and local nonprofit Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) have teamed up to build almost 500 units of new housing across two buildings on the site of a burned-down Lower East Side synagogue.

The group presented its plans to Manhattan Community Board 3 this week, eight months after a fire destroyed Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, a landmarked 167-year-old house of worship on Norfolk Street between Grand and Broome streets. In the proposal, the first building, a ten-story structure on the southeast corner of Norfolk Street, would host 88 affordable senior apartments, spread over 73,000 square feet and cantilevered over the synagogue ruins. A second, 30-story building at Suffolk Street, the next block east, will sport 400 apartments, of which one-quarter will be permanently affordable.

New York’s Dattner Architects is the architect, although the firm has not yet filed its tower plans with the Department of Buildings (DOB).

Although Gotham will manage the development via a 99-year lease, the CPC, which serves the Chinese community in New York City, will retain ownership of the parcel behind the ruined shul. As part of the deal, Bowery Boogie reported the nonprofit will own a 40,000-square-foot commercial condo that will serve as its headquarters. Meanwhile, documents submitted to CB3 show Beth Hamedrash Hagadol’s congregation will have access to a 5,000-square-foot–plus commercial condo in the 30-story building.

Plans also call for almost 22,000 square feet of new retail on Broome Street and in the taller building’s basement, while a new outdoor space will be open to senior residents, the congregation, and the CPC.

In July of last year, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the partial demolition of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, citing the structure’s instability post-fire. Although the owner had originally sought to demolish the structure entirely, two engineering teams declared the south and east facades repairable, and the LPC approved a resolution that requires the owner to salvage significant architectural features where possible.

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) reached out to CPC and Dattner for more details on the design. Via CPC, a spokesperson for Gotham told AN that the designs at the community board meeting were just ideas, and that the cantilever proposal may change. The design must undergo a lengthy approvals and community engagement process ahead of a groundbreaking that’s slated for late 2019.

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