What’s next for the historic Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue? Sadly, after a fire tore through the 19th-century structure, it appears that the only way to move forward at the site is to tear it down. The Department of Buildings already deemed the landmark building to be structurally unstable, but a meeting of Manhattan Community Board 3’s landmarks subcommittee shed a bit more light on the extent of the damage.
According to Bowery Boogie, engineers from the firm Zimmerman Architects provided an update on the state of the building, inasmuch as they could assess it—apparently, it’s in such bad shape that neither that firm, nor inspectors from the DOB, could get inside to get a fuller picture of the damage.
But based on their assessment, this is how bad things are: many parts of the structure, including the roof and the wall facing Broome Street, are in such bad shape as to be beyond repair; there are other parts that can be saved, though they’re still in bad shape and would require extensive work. Many parts are also unstable and unsafe at the moment.
That also puts redevelopment plans for the site in jeopardy; Greenbaum allegedly was working on a plan to sell the building’s air rights and eventually restore the synagogue, while also adding housing and a community center to the site.
Given the state of the building, CB3 gave its okay to demolition; according to Bowery Boogie, the plans will go before the Landmarks Preservation Commission sometime next month. The synagogue is one of Manhattan’s earliest landmarks, having received that designation in 1967. The CB subcommittee did, however, recommend trying to save as much of the building as possible, according to the Lo-Down.
But given the site’s history—redevelopment plans have been bandied about in some form or another for years—there was, unsurprisingly, some pushback at last night’s meeting. According to Bowery Boogie, some attendees pointed fingers at Greenbaum for a lack of transparency about the building and any potential redevelopment plans.
Correction, 6/23/17: A previous version of this article stated that the Department of Buildings had approved demolition plans for Beth Hamedrash Hagodol; this is not the case, though the DOB has assessed the instability of the building. Curbed regrets the error.