With his $100M controversial Islamic prayer and community center Park51 (sensationally known as the "Ground Zero Mosque") stalled downtown, developer Sharif El-Gamal is moving onto a new, rather unexpected project. El-Gamal and partner Murray Hill Properties are purchasing the New School's former Midtown building, which also holds an 83-year-old synagogue, with plans to construct a 20- to 23-story retail and hotel tower and rebuild the religious institution. According to the Times, the developers want to demolish the building where the Garment Center Synagogue is currently located at 40th Street and Seventh Avenue, and create a new home for the institution, as well as three floors of retail and a 250 to 260 room hotel. The developers made a donation to the synagogue and agreed to relocate it to a temporary home while the new building is constructed. They hope to start demolition within a few months.
The building was previously owned by the New School, but the university announced plans to sell it last year when they moved to the Greenwich Village campus. El-Gamal and co. are paying $61.5 million for the site, which was originally given to the New School by financial supporter Albert List, who bought the building in 1975. At that time, the synagogue had been in the building for a decade, and List granted the institution a 99-year lease for $1 a year. The synagogue and El-Gamal now have an "excellent, ironclad agreement" for their new home. No permits have been filed yet with the Department of Buildings, but we are officially on destruction watch, so please do send site photos to the tipline.
· New Plan by Islamic Center Developer: Rebuild a Synagogue [NYT]
· All Sharif El-Gamal coverage [Curbed]