OPPONENTS OF TEMPLE-TO-CONDO PROJECT WANT EMERGENCY LANDMARKS HEARING

shaare-zedek-meeting
A substantial crowd attended the meeting about Shaare Zedek.

By Mark Bollettieri

A community group wants to landmark a 93-year-old synagogue on 93rd Street to keep it from being redeveloped into condos. But synagogue leaders say that would destroy their congregation, and it’s still not clear whether local elected officials will take sides.

The West 90s Neighborhood Coalition made their case to block the redevelopment of Shaare Zedek, the synagogue on 93rd Street at a Community Board Preservation Committee meeting on Thursday night.

The proposed redevelopment of the synagogue would tear down the existing building and replace it with a fourteen story luxury high-rise, opponents say. The synagogue would own the first three floors of the new building, which would include their new sanctuary and classroom space. (Shaare Zedek confirmed that the synagogue would occupy three floors, but officials didn’t get back to us on the 14-story height.)

shaare zedek
Shaare Zedek as it looks now.

The coalition aims to convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an emergency hearing about the building. The coalition argues that the 93-year old neoclassical building, which has twelve stained glass windows, is a cultural institution that should not be demolished. They asked the Community Board to write a letter to the LPC asking them to hold the emergency hearing, but it does not appear that the board will do so.

Ronna Blaser, a member of the West 90s Neighborhood Coalition, argued that the developer is taking advantage of a zoning provision that allows the construction of a taller building if some space in it is devoted to community purposes. The provision, she said, was created to ensure the construction of new community spaces. But, she argued that this development will not add any new community space because it simply replaces the one it destroys.

Members of the West 90s Neighborhood Coalition also claimed that synagogue did not consider another religious institution’s offer to buy and preserve the building as is. The synagogue repeatedly denied that such an offer was ever made.

Some members of the coalition also cited concerns about noise, traffic, and light. Once constructed, the building will block some of the windows of 215 West 92nd street, the synagogue’s back neighbors.

Michael Firestone, President of Shaare Zedek, said that selling the synagogue was necessary because of financial hardship. The congregation does not have an endowment, and it is financially responsible for the upkeep of Bayside Cemetery in Ozone Park, Queens. Without the sale, he said, the congregation would likely fold.

Firestone said that he has signed a binding contract for the sale of the building to the developer. He said the deal has been ten years in the making, and characterized it as a mutually beneficial partnership between the developer and the synagogue.

According to Firestone, all other options to save the building have been explored. He assured the community that the historic stained glass windows will not be destroyed in the redevelopment. He mentioned that the current synagogue is not well-suited to their congregation because the building is too big and it is not ADA compliant.

Roz Paaswell, a representative of the synagogue, said that the West 90s Neighborhood coalition cares about preserving a cultural institution, whereas the synagogue cares about preserving a “living, breathing community.”

Jay Adolf, Co-Chairperson of the Preservation Committee, said there was “nobility on both sides” of the dilemma. The Committee did not vote or take an opinion on the matter.

When asked for comment, Councilmember Helen Rosenthal wrote that she is reviewing the matter.

“I have met with opponents of the proposed project and advised them on the Landmarks process. I will also be meeting with the Synagogue soon. I want to hear all sides before determining what steps to pursue.”

HISTORY, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 71 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      I stopped after reading that not developing condos “would destroy their congregation”.

    2. UWS Neighbor says:

      There is another UWS congregation that would like to purchase and preserve the synagogue and which approached Shaare Zedek’s board about doing so before Shaare Zedek ever entered into its binding agreement with the developer.

      This other option would allow for all parties to get what they want:

      1) The Shaare Zedek congregation could sell its building for a very high price, relocate elsewhere, re-endow the fund for caring for the cemetery in perpetuity, and thrive in a smaller space.

      2) The historic building on W. 93rd could be landmarked and remain in use as a vibrant synagogue.

      • Paul says:

        Since the congregation leaders deny the existence of such an offer, perhaps some detail (name of the offer or, amount offered) would be helpful.

      • jm2 says:

        this is a fiction. no such possibility exists. check it out.

      • Paul says:

        Given that the congregation’s President is quoted as denying the existence of such an offer, some detail as to whom the offeror is, and what has been offered, would be helpful in determining if this is a viable option (if it exists at all).

        • Jane Neuman says:

          The name of the other congregation appeared as follow in the comments section about the this issue last week:

          “Romenu, a growing UWS congregation with over 600 families, is very seriously interested in buying the Shaare Zedek building. The Romenu leaders have even approached Shaare Zedek a number of times about doing so, and have made a very credible starting offer.”

          • UWS Neighbor says:

            Please have a look at comment #16 below, from someone who was present when the offer from Romenu was presented to the Shaare Zedek board.

            As that writer attests, there were those on Shaare Zedek’s board who wanted to accept the offer – and who resigned when the offer was not accepted.

            Yet at last week’s meeting, the current and former board chairs of Shaare Zedek insisted that no such offer had ever been made.

      • UWSMSIDEHEIGHTS says:

        1-Everyone needs to stop talking about the 93/4 year old building as being a “community institution.” The community institution is the 180 year old congregation that owns it and would like to stay on 93rd street for another 180 years.

        2-Have any of you actually set foot in the SZ building? Yes, it has some elements that are beautiful. However, it was built to hold 1400 people for prayer services with a small sub-par social space, a classroom or two and that’s it. It isn’t great for families with strollers, the elderly and is only able to use a small fraction of its space. Members pour quite a great deal in dues to keep the community vibrant. What have these activists ever contributed?

        3-In addition to this building, they have owned an 150yo cemetery with 30k graves in Ozone Park, Queens (which was founded my multiple institutions. SZ is the last of the founding institutions still active).

        3-After two rounds of articles, I wish some folks here understand the SZ story as not being about a land grab or a developer marching into town. Its about keeping the 3rd oldest synagogue in NYC where it belongs (on West 93rd).

        • dannyboy says:

          you lost me at #1

          please consider this lovely poem:

          No man is an island,
          Entire of itself,
          Every man is a piece of the continent,
          A part of the main.
          If a clod be washed away by the sea,
          Europe is the less.
          As well as if a promontory were.
          As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
          Or of thine own were:
          Any man’s death diminishes me,
          Because I am involved in mankind,
          And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
          It tolls for thee.

          John Donne

          • Woody says:

            cool story bro

          • keith says:

            Making the assumption that keeping this building intact is myopic. Sure the facade is attractive, however developer plans to convert existing architecture into cost sustainable developments has also met with landmark scrutiny like the church on central park west that wanted to convert to condos.

            This detractors want to force this congregation to maintain a building that is in disrepair and does not meet basic code requirements.

            How about the benefits of having some additional market rate apartments in an area on the UWS has that has its fair share of projects and public assistance housing. How about the empty store fronts with a two block radius of this proposed development that could benefit with some additional foot traffic from people that have incomes, while at the same time offering an affordable gathering space for this congregation that wants to stay on the UWS.

            • dannyboy says:

              “How about the benefits of having some additional market rate apartments in an area on the UWS”

              “How about the empty store fronts with a two block radius of this proposed development that could benefit with some additional foot traffic from people that have incomes”

              someone is promoting the real estate bottom line

    3. Kenneth says:

      This seems to be a distressed property whose owners have no apparent resources for its proper upkeep and maintenance. The real lead in this story is perhaps buried in the statement that the new structure will block (one would assume) lot line north facing windows on West 92nd (perhaps also east-facing windows on the corner property at Broadway and 93rd?).

    4. Sherman says:

      Congregation Habonim did what Shaare Zedek is proposing.

      They sold their synagogue on West 66th because it was literally falling apart and maintaining it was consuming their budget. The land it was on is worth a fortune.

      Habonim sold this building to a developer in return for having a new, modern and more efficient synagogue built on the ground floor of a high rise.

      This is a win-win situation for the synagogue and the community.

      I see no reason why SZ shouldn’t do the same.

    5. rprp says:

      interesting. The “coalition” claimed that they already had the support of Council Member Rosenthal, unambiguously. Clearly that is not the case. Just one of a number of actual, factual errors they made.

    6. Phoebe says:

      UWS: If you know the name of the other synagogue, why don’t you call Shaare Zedek as well as those who made the offer and present this article?

    7. Cato says:

      Clearly Councilmember Helen Rosenthal is waiting for a weatherman to tell her which way the wind blows.

      Shouldn’t our elected representatives — particularly those at the local level — already be sufficiently familiar with longstanding neighborhood issues to be able to form an opinion? This one has been around for quite a while — where has she been?

      Or is she, perhaps, waiting for a pollster to tell her which position will garner her the most votes when she runs for re-election next year?

      Hmmmm…..

      • charles says:

        you are correct. helen rosenthal is in favor of putting so called homeless families in $300 per night luxury hotels on the UWS.

    8. B.B. says:

      First and foremost this is private property and private transaction. Shaare Zedek is within their legal rights to dispose of their property as they see fit. To wit they do not have to “include” any outside person or group in their decisions outside of what is outlined by law.

      This having been said why haven’t any of these other congregations come forward with proof of their “offers”? When Saint Vincent’s was going through bankruptcy at least parties interested in saving the place submitted offers to the courts. All we have here is various posts/statements of same, but nothing proven. So Shaare Zedek can perfectly say (with a straight face), they know of no such offers.

      As with West Park Church there obviously are some self serving interests at work here. 215 West 92nd street residents affected by loss of views and a potential decrease in property values likely head that list.

      For all intents and purposes this property is distressed or getting close to that state. Thus presents two immediate issues; would those seeking to “save” the synagogue insist on Shaare Zedek taking a haircut on price in view of work required. This or if any of these groups do succeed in getting the property do they have the required funds to carry out the much needed structural repairs? Am talking about *now* not in twenty, or thirty years worth of fundraising.

      As noted in OP the property is not ADA compliant. Once any major work begins on the building that would have to be corrected, and don’t see how it can happen with current façade/layout.

      UWS already has one *saved* religious structure shrouded in scaffolding and netting as it sits falling apart, it does not need another.

      • dannyboy says:

        “First and foremost this is private property and private transaction. Shaare Zedek is within their legal rights to dispose of their property as they see fit.”

        is this the right thing or not-illegal thing?

        there is a big difference and if religious institutions just try to do whatever the law allows, we are in big trouble.

        you don’t see that?

    9. Neighbor says:

      Preservation Committee Co-Chair Gabrielle Palitz is a member of the synagogue and instructed the committee not to take action. We overheard her! Her public “recusal” is just for show. Extremely corrupt and disappointing that a community board won’t even write a letter to ask LPC for a fair evaluation on the building’s merit.

      • Bravo says:

        What makes you think that a “coalition”, aka a bunch of self-important people, have the right to dictate a private owner of a property what to do with their property? This is really weird.

        • charles says:

          put a drug rehabilitation center on the first floors. this will silence the critics and soothe their conscience.

    10. Jen says:

      I’m surprised not too many people are that 70th and Amsterdam synagogue is being replaced by 51 story building. Why it is ok to erecti such a monstrosity in the residential neighborhood where the buildings are not taller than 35 floors is very unclear. It totally changes the neighborhood to start with not to mention complete lack of planning for infrastructure and schools. When on earth the city will take the architecture style, infrastructure and school issues into consideration before quickly signing off on a another deal that benefits nobody but developers and city bureaucrats?

      Another DeBlasio shady deal nobody has guts to question?

      • Paul says:

        The agreements relocating Lincoln Square synagogue and creating the high rise date back to the expiration of urban renewal restrictions in 2004 and were in place years before De Blasio was elected.

        Please try to be informed and not recklessly blame those you don’t happen to like.

        • Jen says:

          Thank you for educating me that it is not DeBlasio fault. However, the issue still remains, whoever let it happen – erecting a 51-story building in a tiny lot that is twice as tall as the surrounding buildings is ok? Considering overcrowding as it is, waiting lists at schools, overcrowded subways, sidewalks, subway, how can it be ok? Not to mention changing the face of the UWS where apparently you can go as high as you want as long as you bought “air rights”. No architectural review to make sure city is no becoming uglier by day is necessary

    11. Jen says:

      I’m surprised not too many people are upset that 70th and Amsterdam synagogue is being replaced by 51 story building. Why it is ok to erect such a monstrosity in the residential neighborhood where the buildings are not taller than 35 floors is very unclear. It totally changes the neighborhood to start with not to mention complete lack of planning for infrastructure and schools. When on earth the city will take the architecture style, infrastructure and school issues into consideration before quickly signing off on a another deal that benefits nobody but developers and city bureaucrats?

      Another DeBlasio shady deal nobody has guts to question?

    12. Michael says:

      This is a beautiful, historic building that demands preservation. Its demolition would be yet another short-sighted mistake that we, as New Yorkers, would come to regret. Remember Penn Station? In addition to changing the quaint character of the immediate neighborhood, yet more residents on 93rd street near Broadway would also lead to a deterioration of life quality for those of us already living in the neighborhood. We do not need more cars, more congestion and less diversity.

      The congregation does deserve to survive and its neighbors would like to help ensure its survival. But there are other options which have yet to be explored. Perhaps the neighboring buildings would cooperate to buy air rights above the synagogue thereby providing the congregation with sufficient money to thrive while also preserving the neighborhood’s character and this beautiful piece of architecture. Perhaps the congregation would share this space with other congregations? There are, no doubt. other options worth exploring to prevent this travesty from taking place.

      • Woody says:

        What would the neighboring buildings do with all those air rights after they buy them? Unless I’m missing your point, this is a ridiculous solution.

        • B.B. says:

          There are two main reasons for purchasing air rights; to use them or preserve open space/views.

          Forget where but recently a developer purchased vast amounts of air rights for a new building that went up in Manhattan. IIRC it was on the West Side or perhaps Mid-town. In any event he wanted to preserve views (going west, again IIRC) to enhance the value of the condo units. That is persons would be willing to pay more for an apartment knowing going forward their views are protected from future development.

          The other reason of course is self evident; you purchase air rights to increase the buildable square footage allowing a taller/larger building than otherwise allowed.

          Sadly many co-op, condo and apartment building owners never bothered about air rights for low rise buildings next door. Now many are paying the price as the red hot Manhattan RE market makes many properties very attractive.

          Tax payer properties, gas stations, garages, churches/religious buildings, etc… all things many assumed weren’t going anywhere are now being redeveloped.

          One of the most famous and sad examples of loss of views came when The Cottages, erected on the west side of Third Avenue between 77th and 78th streets in 1936-37, were torn down for redevelopment into a high rise condo.

          http://www.preserve.org/scg/dolkart.htm

          http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/10/realestate/streetscapes-third-avenue-cottages-cool-low-rise-oasis-hot-development-area.html

          Residents of the co-op building on East 78th who owned east facing apartments that for decades had huge windows that overlooked that garden in short order found them boarded/bricked up, and that was the end of that.

    13. Michael says:

      This is a beautiful, historic building that demands preservation. Its demolition would be yet another short-sighted mistake that we, as New Yorkers, would come to regret. Remember Penn Station? In addition to changing the quaint character of the immediate neighborhood, yet more residents on 93rd street near Broadway would also lead to a deterioration of life quality for those of us already living in the neighborhood. We do not need more cars, more congestion and less diversity.

      The congregation does deserve to survive and its neighbors would like to help ensure its survival. But there are other options which have yet to be explored. Perhaps the neighboring buildings would cooperate to buy air rights above the synagogue thereby providing the congregation with sufficient money to thrive while also preserving the neighborhood’s character and this beautiful piece of architecture. Perhaps the congregation would share this space with other congregations? There are, no doubt. other options worth exploring to prevent this travesty from taking place.

    14. PT says:

      It all has a very simple solution. Set back the new building above the Synagogue, the developer gets the air rights the congregation gets lots of money to survive another day and the original building survives Problem solved.

    15. Eric says:

      “This is a beautiful, historic building that demands preservation.”

      Not so.

      Sorry, but this is a very, very typical neo-roman building without any architecturally significant features. The notion that people love walking by it and have a developed a fondness for it does not make it worthy of protection … a protection that comes by taking the drastic step of curtailing the private property rights of the owners..

      As for it being “beautiful” well that’s just an opinion and there are as many of those on the UWS as there are people. There’s no accounting for taste.

      • westsidertoo says:

        the building is pretty undistinguished and was not even remarkable when it was built. But the Landmarks Commission will make that determination. Most of the discussion here is about things that are outside the question of landmarking and none of those things make any difference at all in that decision. And that is the ONLY matter up for determination. No other approvals are needed.

    16. UWS'der says:

      I personally sat in on the meetings (whith Shaare Zedek) where a buy out of the synagogue was discussed and an official letter, with an offer, was presented to the Board rep. They can decide not to accept an offer and they do have the right to determine what to do with their building. But to deny the existence of a real offer undermines their “moral” stance. Members of their Board resigned because of this.

      • Bp says:

        Perhaps the people who run the organization did not consider it a “real” offer – kind of like the guys on craigslist that lowball you with an offer you wouldn’t ever consider – I would never consider those to be offers.

        I assume that the board members of the synagogue have a fiduciary responsibility to their congregants/organization to get the best deal possible for THEIR organization.

        It looks like the deal that they made allows them to continue at their location with little interruption and probably allows for room for future growth.

        No one on this forum knows, or admits to knowing what offer was made for the building and how it compares to the deal that was ultimately accepted.

        • dannyboy says:

          “I assume that the board members of the synagogue have a fiduciary responsibility to their congregants/organization to get the best deal possible for THEIR organization.”

          you do know that there are other considerations besides money

          …right?

          • Bp says:

            Yes dannyboy, there are other considerations.

            How about their consideration of the long term survival of their congregation?

            Their fiduciary duty to their congregation extends further than monetary matters.

            • dannyboy says:

              if the congregation does something for itself,
              it should do something for the community at the same time.

              that is their Responsibility

            • keith says:

              Its Malarky to say that the congregation needs to give something to the community when what you want them to give at least half the people in these comments don’t agree is actually giving back to the community.

              Have you looked at the programs for the poor and needy this congregation supports? Probably not. How do you no they do not give back to the community by their existence on 93rd street with programs and outreach? In a new efficient to operate space or a dilapidated building to maintain?

              This one block on 93rd street alone has a church on one end with methadone programs and a soup kitchen. The other end is a projects building. The idea of building market rate apartments on the street is a better give back to the community than letting a building fall further into disrepair.

              In a perfect world the facade would be kept and the property developed, but we have seen how attempts to do even that are killed by activist outcry.

            • dannyboy says:

              @kieth

              “Malarchy”???????????????????

              Get a moral compass.

        • cszformermember says:

          your first paragraph nails it. Nothing more need be said.

        • cszformermember says:

          And your first paragraph nails it too. A proposal is not an offer, especially when no details were forthcoming within the time frame allowed. There. Was. No. Offer.

      • WNNC Group says:

        Hi there – Would you be able to provide additional details of your experience to us? Please contact us at wnncgroup@gmail.com.

        Thank you for sharing!!

    17. UWS Neighbor says:

      Please have a look at comment #16 below, from someone who was present when the offer from Romenu was presented to the Shaare Zedek board.

      As that writer attests, there were those on Shaare Zedek’s board who wanted to accept the offer – and who resigned when the offer was not accepted.

      Yet at last week’s meeting, the current and former board chairs of Shaare Zedek insisted that no such offer had ever been made.

    18. Testudo says:

      I am all for the condo. Broadway between 93rd and 96th is becoming a wasteland. It is downright scary at night and dirty all day. The area needs a jolt of life. Hopefully this could help. If people were so worried about losing light, they should have stopped that awful Melar building from being built.

    19. Carlos says:

      Let’s say the building is landmarked and SZ cannot sell. The congregation goes bankrupt. What happens to the building then? Ideally, I would like to keep the building as is, but I’m not sure if that is realistic.

      And to those in the neighboring building who are upset, perhaps they should have done their research before buying. Understandably, the likelihood of a neighboring synagogue being torn down or built over was very low. But if you are investing your money in an apartment, you should research all possible scenarios – make sure that they neighboring building is either fully landmarked or find out how high a replacement building could potentially be built.

      • WNNC says:

        Many people have lived in the building for 20+ years. Who could have expected this to happen!

        • Jay says:

          If you know anything about the history of Manhattan then you could have expected that things might change in the neighborhood. Before the building you live in was built, something else was in it’s place, right?

        • Carlos says:

          People with a competent real estate lawyer could have expected it to happen.

    20. Jean says:

      Many area residents thought that the synagogue was already landmarked. This is a stunningly beautiful building, inside and out, and should be preserved. A building like this really belongs to everyone.

      • Paul says:

        Really? Belongs to everyone?

        How much are you willing to pay to insure its maintenance?

        How much should I pay?

        • UWSMSIDEHEIGHTS says:

          Belongs to everyone! Yes. That is correct Congregation Shaare Zedek belongs to the UWS and badly wants to celebrate its 180th birthday in the months ahead.

          Belongs to everyone is quite a kumbaya thing to say. But what does it say to folks who are spending $1k,2k,3k+ in dues to keep the lights on, street ploughed, etc compared to those who walk by it on the way to work? Many talk of loving a building. How many have been inside? How many have seen more than its cornerstone? How many have tried to bring a stroller or walk in with a disability it isn’t easy. These things aren’t fixed by signing kumbaya (let alone SZ’s other obligations).

          • dannyboy says:

            “Congregation Shaare Zedek belongs to the UWS” and so the Congragation should consider the UWS in it’s decision.

            • UWSMSIDEHEIGHTS says:

              I respect that you feel this way. As I have stated earlier, not allowing SZ to use the one asset it has in order to continue past its 180th birthday will mean that the UWS/NYC will lose an institution dating back prior to the Civil War and will be stuck with a crumbling building that it suddenly dearly loves.

              So, as I said before Congregation Shaare Zedek belongs to the Upper West Side. Its building belongs to the people who provide funds for heat. Not people who have conveniently fallen in love with it in the past few months without ever setting foot inside.

              Same goes to be said or the 32k grave cemetery in Ozone Park, Queens that SZ owns and badly wants to be taken care of for perpetuity. How will that be taken care of either?

            • dannyboy says:

              I have no reason to feel that your congregation should do everything it needs to survive.

              Go ahead. But go slowly.

              I only point out, that because of this pressing need, you could become overly focused on the money needed for continuing.

              You must also keep in mind, that once you decide your plan, you live with it. So include in your plan some preservation. Include in your plan some wonderful resource for the neighborhood. There is no reason, other than our overheated need to survive that often makes us miss a more beautiful way forward.

            • UWSMSIDEHEIGHTS says:

              So basically, you care just about a building and not that a community that has called 93rd street home and wants to stay there to go away.

              SZ has the fiduciary responsibility to take care of its enormous cemetery in Queens.

              As part of the plan, the goal is to restore as many elements of the current building as possible.

              And if SZ disappears, what will the community do with the crumbling building that’s very expensive to maintain and only slightly functional.

            • dannyboy says:

              maybe my typing skills threw you off:

              I have no reason to feel that your congregation should NOT do everything it needs to survive.

    21. DevorahDad says:

      As a veteran of synagogue affairs, I have heard Shaare Zedek’s argument about the demise of their organization. However, upon a closer review, it is clear that Shaare Zedek has mismanaged their cash-flow for years.

      Why no renting out space in their building for special events? A backgammon club could pay a monthly stipend to use a room. Weddings? The Jewish Center regularly rents out its facilities to increase cash flow.

      I do not think the neighborhood should pay for Shaare Zedek’s financial mismanagement.

      • Carlos says:

        Please stop acting like an expert when you clearly are not one. In the last five years I have attended a bris there and my daughter attended children’s classes run by an outside organization. The room is adequate for those purposes but needs some rehab (which costs money) to be used more extensively. So some efforts to monetize the space have definitely been made.

      • UWSMSIDEHEIGHTS says:

        SZ has a bridge club. SZ rents its space out. If you understand the space, you would see that its not super versatile nor super attractive compared to other spaces around.

    22. Upper West Sider says:

      The Shaare Zedek building is beautiful, part of an historic, important New York City that is vanishing. If this building and others like it are demolished, we’ll move closer to destroying our history and becoming a city of high rises. We need a balance between old and new. Shaare Zedek should be preserved.

    23. UpperWestSider says:

      It is a beautiful and historic building that should be landmarked. What would NYC be if its historic character is allowed to be destroyed? There are not many of these types of buildings in existence anymore. What would Paris be like without its beautiful, historic architectural character? There is a solution where a congregation wants to buy the building, where the building itself will serve its intended purpose, the surrounding community will not have to suffer the consequences of the demolition and construction, we get to keep a bit of history, and the Shaare Zedek community will be able to take care of their financial responsibility to the cemetery and continue to exist in a different space that is better suited to their needs as a small congregation.

    24. UWS lifer says:

      The Landmarks Preservation Commission should make the determination whether or not the structure should be designated as landmark. If landmarked, any proposed alterations to the structure will have to be approved by the commission. By law, the local community would have an opportunity for input into the design. This would create a collaborative process that more often than not results in a better design. The LPC cannot prohibit re-development per se; that would be an unconstitutional taking. But, they would determine whether any proposed alterations are “appropriate.”

      I attended the CB7 full meeting in September where a temple representative derided “facadism” — and she cited her decades of experience in city planning. Is she not familiar with the concept of “Adaptive Reuse”? That is the prevailing trend in historic preservation worldwide. A design which incorporates the existing/restored facade with a modern structure behind would be an appropriate adaptive reuse.

      It is not a foregone conclusion that landmarking the temple structure would necessarily spell the end of the congregation. Hardship determinations exist under the landmarks laws. But in requesting a hardship exemption, the temple would have to open its books.

      Let LPC make its determination and move forward from there.

    25. B.B. says:

      For those who have never been inside…

      http://sideways.nyc/2016/06/congregation-shaare-zedek/

      • Uws says:

        Absolutely stunning! Loss of this space would be a shame. There must be a better way forward than demolition.

        (Certainly doesn’t look crumbling!)

    26. Lou says:

      I live right by this beautiful building. It would be a real shame to have it torn down.