Chabad Getting New Five-Story Space With Two Synagogues


A rendering of the new building, set to be finished by 2020.

Chabad, the Orthodox Jewish movement rooted in Hassidic Judaism, is planning to take the first five floors of a new building at 15-19 West 96th Street, near Central Park West, according to Jewish Week. The new condo building will get to rise higher because it gets a “community facility” bonus by having the religious organization on the lower floors.

The new building is replacing three townhouses that were built in the early 1900’s.

“The new site of Chabad of the West Side (CWS) — the first Manhattan branch of the Brooklyn-based Chabad Lubavitch chasidic movement — will house two synagogues, a mikveh, a library, a conference center, a terrace-playground, a teacher’s training academy, meeting rooms and classrooms for CWS’ growing preschool and Hebrew school. At 20,000 square feet, the new center is double the space of its current location.

Construction on the new building is to begin this spring, and the new Chabad site is set to open in September 2020.”

Chabad has outgrown its current space at 166 West 97th street.

NEWS | 56 comments | permalink
    1. Adam Greene says:

      Awesome!

    2. Cindy (Cin) Ick says:

      Oy-Vey —the SHADOWS STEALING SUNLIGHT AND AIR !

      Oy-Vey#2— the OVER-CROWDING ON THE SUBWAY !!

      Oy-Vey#3 — Ummmm…give us a moment and we’ll think of something!

      ..Ooopsie, just got caught-up in the standard NIMBY-kvetch.

      Heh-Heh, April Fool’s day+1

      Welcome, Chabad !

    3. dannyboy says:

      Ah the memories! From the Archives, circa September 2016:
      ====================================
      “How is tearing down a building in disrepair and is wasting space and replacing it with a 22-story development of new housing a negative for the neighborhood? Seems like a positive to me…

      dannyboy says:
      September 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm
      townhouses built in 1900 and 1926 are not a waste of space. they are, in fact, historic buildings.

      Also, when you write “The fact of the matter is that people with money can and will buy whatever they want.” is that really true?”
      ====================================
      AS IT NOW TURNS OUT, IT IS TRUE “that people with money can and will buy whatever they want.”

      • Brenda says:

        My understanding is that the townhouses contained about 40 units (“moderately-priced”). The new building will contain 16 exorbitantly priced units. That’s progress? It’s a shame. The building is ugly, doesn’t fit with the street and seems to be abusing the “rights” to build above the limits.

        • Woody says:

          There were only 30 units in the brownstones and their total capacity probably wasn’t much more than the number people you can comfortably fit in 16 apartments that are 3,000 sq ft. each. Apartments that size encourage people to stay in the neighborhood and city as their families grow.

          What is your understanding of there being a law that defines abusing the right to build above a limit? If you’re trying to say that a building must be of similar height to adjoining buildings, that’s nonsense. I find nothing special about either building on the left and right of the new one that would justify its design fitting with the street.

    4. Paul says:

      This is wonderful news. We sent our kids to Chabad Early Learning Center for preschool and found it to be an extremely warm and welcoming environment for our whole family. They are a great asset to the neighborhood and we are thrilled they are expanding their presence.

    5. Diane says:

      Ugly, ugly, ugly. Just plain ugly.

    6. Adam says:

      I’m okay with 22 stories. It’s 80 I worry about….

    7. David Morris says:

      This is a “community facility?” Nonsense. Outrageous. Where is Gale Brewer and the land use process? CB 7? Cowards.

    8. Sigh says:

      What a hideous building.

      What beautiful, classic buildings it destroyed.

      What the eff. Sometimes it’s so hard not to hate you, NYC.

    9. Leon says:

      There clearly is a relatively consistent roofline along this block, similar to West End. I don’t see why they get to violate that. I don’t really care what the space is being used for.

      • David Morris says:

        But you should care what the space is being used for. I think. If it’s truly a community space, open to the community, it’s different from a space controlled by a religious group, and a particularly non-inclusive one at that.

        • Woody says:

          Why do you state that this facility would not be open to the public? There is nothing to indicate that is the case.

    10. Wailing Winnie says:

      There’s something wrong with the law when the term “community space” is applied to the Lubavitcher. They keep completely to themselves, they will not mix into our wonderfully varied neighborhood. Their children will be kept separate from other neighborhood children. the building will be an eyesore on our block.

      • UpperBestSide says:

        Exactly correct! How can Chabad be considered a community organization? They are inward, private, and will in no way benefit the greater community. The fact that including a Chabad preschool and men’s mikveh that does not attempt any outreach or service beyond their singular mission allows a building that is a bit of an eye sore to build higher is a complete farce! Where’s CB7?

      • Sherman says:

        Apparently you know little about Chabad.

        Chabad is an outreach organization. As such it tends to attract non-affiliated Jews and even many non-Jews (ask Jon Voight). They are far less exclusionary than many of the other religious organizations in the area.

        They will not “keep completely to themselves” and they will be part of the fabric of the UWS community.

      • Sharon says:

        That is totally false. Lubavitch is extremely welcoming of everyone. We aren’t religious and sent our son to Chabad preschool and we loved every aspect of it. The children are not “kept separate” and they are very much a part of the UWS community.

        • Mark says:

          Does Chabad welcome gay couples as couples?

          • 123Train says:

            Well, that would certainly make the issue of mixed couples dancing even more interesting. And would there be a fight over who has to sit in the mezzanine?

            Anyway, while Chabad may struggle with the question, they strive hard to embrace the modern world. The following article states that while Jewish law (per the Torah) is absolute (homosexuality is expressly forbidden), it also explicitly states that bigotry and homophobia are also strictly prohibited. And there is a growing sensitivity to the suffering that people suffer because of their sexuality.

            While I am not overly observant, I love what Chabad offers to the community at large. They adher to the idea of Tikkun Olam or, “Repair the World”, and that’s something we can all benefit from.

            Check out the article:

            https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/663504/jewish/Do-Homosexuals-Fit-into-the-Jewish-Community.htm

            By the way, the Lubavitch movement differs greatly from the Satmar sect, which is extremely insular and unwelcoming to outsiders and even non-observant Jews.

            • Stuart says:

              So does this mean I’ll now have to dodge little Lubavitcher kids on W. 96th Street asking me if I’m Jewish?

              (Answer: Yes, but I’m not interested in becoming a Lubavitcher. Neither is my Catholic wife, thank you. Secular and happy.)

            • 123Train says:

              So you can just walk away, like I mostly do, although every so often I’ll let ’em lay some Tefillin on me if I’m in the mood. Sure ain’t doing it myself!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        @ Wailing Winnie : Would you DARE say “They keep completely to themselves, they will not mix into our wonderfully varied neighborhood” if this was about a Muslim sect? I’ve heard comments exactly like yours, from Jews mostly (!), about religious Jews all my life. Winnie, keep on wailing, but religious Jews are here to stay. Sorry not sorry.

      • Woody says:

        You should research what is considered community space in NYC as it applies to receiving a zoning bonus. It’s a long list of facilities, including religious institutions, available to the public.

      • UWS Yenta says:

        This is totally false and anti-semitic. Your comments are disgusting. Go campaign for Trump. Be grateful this isn’t another bank. And as far as Chabad goes…they do the EXACT OPPOSITE of keep to themselves! The Lubavitchers are champions of outreach and inclusion…last summer they had a street fair on 97th for children and all were welcome.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          @UWS Yenta — I agree with your comments except the Trump part. Let me give you some facts: Trump: Purchased Mar-a-Lago in 1985, and from interviews at that time that are on videotape, repeatedly stated how the locals were furious with him because his club will accept African-Americans and Jews as members. He said of the locals “They’re snotty bluebloods, anti-semites”. Trump has five children; the three that are married, married Jews, and his daughter converted to Judaism. Trump has religious Jewish grandchildren. Now lets briefly mention the previous President: He invited Al Sharpton to the White House no less than 57 times. Remember Al Sharpton’s role in the Crown Heights riots, including his rhetoric of “the diamond merchants”? How about what the Obama administration did by abstaining from the U.N. vote on December 22, 2016 which included preventing Jews from praying at the Western Wall? Please, tell me, from a non-ideological standpoint, which President would fit your statement of “anti-semitic…go campaign for Trump”. Is it really Trump? Or the previous Democrat in office?

          • dannyboy says:

            Criticizing President Obama and Reverend Al Sharpton for not being Jewish-supporter enough is kinda’ expecting some Special Consideration.

            And it is REVEREND Sharpton.

          • AJUWS says:

            Well done. Pointing out the extreme left’s delusional fanatics is so easy. Thank you for writing the truth.

      • UpperBestSide says:

        Chabad is a dangerous organization and antithetical to community building or community space as it should be defined. Chabad teachings directly oppose the separation of church and state, their theology is hierarchic and unequal, their beliefs make any hope of peace in Israel impossible, and they have constantly shown intolerance to LGBTQ Jews, Jews of mixed marriage, women, and non-Jews.

        I do not reject Chabad’s right to exist. I do not reject their right to exist on the Upper West Side or to build and grow as much as they possibly can. As a Jew myself, I welcome differing perspectives on the teachings I’ve grown up with. However, a Chabad preschool is NOT community space. It is not communal, does not promote greater peace, serenity, unity, or empathy in our neighborhood, and should not allow developers to build higher.

        • Sherman says:

          I’m not particularly observant myself but I’m active in the Jewish community and an active member of a synagogue.

          I’ve also been involved with Chabad since I was in college.

          Everything you have written about Chabad is incorrect, hateful and ignorant.

          Before you rant about a topic you are clearly uninformed about perhaps you should make an attempt to learn a bit about it.

          This new Chabad center is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

        • dannyboy says:

          Follow the money.

          Do you, for one second, believe that the tenants want that space in the building open to the community?

    11. Sherman says:

      This is good news.

      A couple of delapidated and grimy townhouses were torn down and and replaced with a clean and modern building that provides more housing.

      We have more apartments and a religious/cultural center that will benefit many members of the community.

      It’s a win for the neighborhood.

      • Neal says:

        Very true. Down with old run down Buildings and up with new clean places that can also hold a house of worship. Chabad welcomes everyone. It is not an insular movement but welcoming to everyone.

        • Mark says:

          This wasn’t answered before, so perhaps you know.
          Does Chabad welcome gay married couples as married couples?
          Are gays and lesbians fully integrated and welcome at Chabad events?

          • UWSHebrew says:

            This wasn’t answered before, so perhaps you know.
            Do any mosques welcome gay married couples as married couples?
            Are gays and lesbians fully integrated and welcome at Islamic events?

            • Mark says:

              UWSHebrew – I don’t know of any and it is my understanding that mosques are not welcoming at all to gay people.
              What does that have to do with my question?

            • dannyboy says:

              Mark,

              UWSHebrew is equating Jews and Muslims.

              He is also asking you a question rather than answering your question. That, I am sure he can do forever.

            • Stuart says:

              Yes, UWSHebrew. There are progressive mosques that accept gays, just like there are progressive synagogues and churches that accept gays.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          does Chabad hold any events or programs that are open to non-orthodox Jews? other than proselytizing?

          • Paul RL says:

            Bruce, I attend many Chabad events, and I’ve never seen anyone turned away. You can find people from all walks of Jewish life at their events, and you don’t need a yarmulke or to cover your elbows and knees to get in. I’ve even seen Asians and African Americans attend some programs, though not very often as they are obviously Jewish-themed and presumably wouldn’t appeal to everyone.

            Also, “proselytizing” is way too strong a word to describe what they do. They do try to remind Jews that they are Jewish, but I’ve never seen anyone (or felt myself) getting brow-beaten into being more religious.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              Thanks PaulRl.

              I have the same experience as Danny, being confronted (sometimes a little too aggressively) on the street by Ultra-Orthodox and asked if I’m Jewish. I think this is around Purim, they want me to come into their vehicle and perform some sort of ritual.

              To be fair, I have no idea which of the sects these people are from. Maybe next time I’ll ask.

              I consider this to be proselytizing, the most aggressive form I regularly confront on the UWS, far more intrusive than the Jehovahs Witnesses, who just stand their. Also, I find it offensive that this group just approaches white Ashkenazi looking people. I wonder if they approach women.

          • dannyboy says:

            Few days ago, some guy asked me my religion on Broadway. I was taken aback. Then he tried to influence me to go with them somewhere where they’s perform rites with Tefillin.

    12. Wendy says:

      oi vey. Oh no; replacing 3 old townhouses. The new , proposed bldg.’s too tall ! “Except the Lord build the house…” ,oops, forgot which chapter & verse. P.S. Protect Israel. P.P.S. “The system” is NOT great for some homeless citizens in duh South Bronx, or, in Manhattan, N.Y.C.. I’m internationally displaced, in a way… Shaloha.

    13. Rob G. says:

      For years the northern end of the neighborhood has been under pressure from the over saturation of badly managed low income housing and shelters that the city keeps dumping here. It’s nice to see this building (and other planned developments in the area) finally offset this trend.

    14. Kenneth says:

      Not really seeing where it is stated, either in this article of the referenced Jewish Week article, that this project actually has zoning or DOB plan approval yet. The structure as it is drawn is substantially out of character for the block.

    15. David T. says:

      Just as churches and synagogues should pay their share of taxes as the rest of us, so should a new condo building live within the confines of the standard rise of normal buildings. Now shout me down.

    16. RK says:

      I wonder if they’ll blare the same music that their Mitzvah Tanks do.

      Do you think they’ll stand on 96th st asking each passerby if they’re Jewish?

    17. Ground Control says:

      The proposal is for a building which is the equivalent of 30 stories-not 22. It is 315 feet tall and will tower over everything around it. It will dwarf the spire of the landmarked church of Christ Scientist soon to be the Children’s Museum.
      This tower is 300 feet from Central Park and will be another to cast shadows on the park. Be careful what you wish for.

    18. B.B. says:

      Well one did call this some time back:

      “According to zoning regulations:

      “Community Facility Use”

      “A community facility use provides educational, health, recreational, religious or other essential services for the community it serves. Community facility uses are listed in Use Groups 3 and 4.”

      Those use groups range from a convent or monastery to non-profit art gallery.”

      https://www.westsiderag.com/2016/09/23/early-1900s-townhouses-succumb-to-the-wrecking-ball

      While most Christian faiths in NYC seem to be in full decline or at least retreat (including Roman Catholic), it does seem at least a few conservative Jewish sects are thriving, growing and yes have money.

      If anyone has been on the UES lately you cannot help but notice the new Safra community center rising on East 82nd near Lexington Avenue.

      http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/sephardic-wave-rolling-into-manhattan/

      https://nypost.com/2013/05/20/brooklyn-shmooklyn-upper-e-side-center-woos-jews/

    19. B.B. says:

      Units on lower floors of residential apartment buildings can be a hard sell, especially for “luxury” or whatever housing.

      By having first five or whatever floors as “community space” it takes those issues off a developer/sponsor so they can concentrate on selling what are normally more desirable units; those on higher floors.

      The last several floors of this building will offer great views west and east that likely will remain. This as don’t see anyone buying out apartment buildings on either side to do a tear down/redevelopment.

      Large question will be at what price per square foot the residential units fetch. Luxury housing prices are currently tanking in NYC, especially Manhattan. While there already exists a large supply, more is due to come online and still more is being planned.

      • dannyboy says:

        “By having first five or whatever floors as “community space” it takes those issues off a developer/sponsor so they can concentrate on selling what are normally more desirable units; those on higher floors.

        The last several floors of this building will offer great views west and east that likely will remain. This as don’t see anyone buying out apartment buildings on either side to do a tear down/redevelopment.”

        B.B.you omit the obvious. Follow the money:

        By housing a “Community” whatever, of their choosing, the developer gets to build higher. So now he no longer has lower-floor units that, as you point out, are hard to sell, he gets Premium Prices for Units in the Sky.

        And we get shadows and further density.

        • B.B. says:

          What you say may be true; but zoning creating “community space” goes back decades; long before this project and or perhaps even those involved were around.

          Governments have limited ways to encourage behavior or things they wish; for urban areas zoning is one way to achieve certain goals.

          Any way don’t see why so many are getting so hot about the zoning which allows this tall building. Current mayor and city council have used zoning to force “inclusionary” or “equality” housing upon developers for several years now. Don’t see many moaning about all the new affordable housing that has come about as a result.

          At least this building will have ground floor space that is rented/used. This unlike commercial/retail space in many new buildings that is sitting vacant.

    20. J.P.Ostriker says:

      Great news. Bigger and bigger