Leaders of Norfolk Street's 164-year-old synagogue have been flip-flopping over the whole save it or sell it issue for the better part of two years. First Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue wanted a developer to buy it up, then it wanted to demolish itself to make way for a residential building (a plan preservationists, naturally, hated and petitioned against), and then it took the whole self-demolition option off the table.
The Journal chronicles this back-and-forth by Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum, who is struggling to toe a fine line: how does he preserve the historic house of worshipa Gothic Revival specimen with a once-ornate interiorwhile also bankrolling its existence, especially given the tempting specter to sell because of the valuable little plot of land that is 60 Norfolk Street?
Greenbaum is fully on the preservationist bandwagon now, according to the WSJ, and is current negotiating with officials and developers to come up with a viable plan. City Council member Margaret Chin suggested selling the synagogue's air rights as one option. Meanwhile, the folks developing the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, better known as SPURA and, excuse us, the new moniker Essex Crossing, could pay for restoration work and other necessary repairs in exchange for air rights. There are six other landmarks in the area that could face similar fates, or reach similar compromises. Stay tuned.
· Preserve a Synagogue, or Sell It [WSJ]
· Landmarked LES Synagogue Decides to Not Demolish Itself [Curbed]
· Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue coverage [Curbed]
· Preservation Battles archive [Curbed]