Synagogue officials argue that partnering up with a developer is that only way to save the congregation
Upper West Side community members are upset over plans to sell a 179-year-old synagogue to a developer that will in turn, result in a 14-story luxury tower, reports DNAinfo.
Congregation Shaare Zedek is considering a sale to developers sighting serious financial strains and claim that they cannot survive without selling the historic but crumbling building at 212 West 93rd Street to a developer that would still dedicate about three stories of space to the congregation while infusing residential units. At a Community Board 7 meeting held on Tuesday, synagogue president Michael Firestone told attendees that unless they partner with a developer they will “be left with a crumbling, abandoned building on 93rd street.”
Members of the West Nineties Neighborhood Coalition who are in opposition to the plan claims that the project would increase traffic and take issue with the plan’s absence of affordable housing offerings. They are calling upon the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an emergency meeting in a quest to get the building landmarked. However, Firestone believes that landmarking the building will only contribute to the dissolution of the synagogue, putting forth that preserving the facade is “financially infeasible” given the decrepit state of the interiors, and an option that they have already explored.
Synagogue representatives have not disclosed information regarding any deals they may have made with developers, though community and West Nineties group member Ronna Blaser speculates that the congregation has already formed a partnership with Ornstein Leyton Company, based off of a letter sent to one of the area’s local co-op boards. Community Board 7 will be presenting both arguments to the Attorney General’s Office without taking a stance on either side.