The site of the fire-ravaged Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on the Lower East Side may give way to senior housing. The Chinatown Planning Council Housing Development Fund Company will present an application to Community Board 3 on Wednesday, September 13 to expand the Hong Ning senior residence at 50 Norfolk Street onto the synagogue site and a nearby parking lot, Bowery Boogie reports.
The development is not entirely unexpected. Before the May 14 fire that destroyed the landmarked synagogue the Chinese American Planning Council at 40 Norfolk Street had started etching out an expansion of the senior facility through a partnership with the synagogue and Gotham Organization, though as of mid-July The Lo-Down reported that the contract was merely exploratory. Under the terms of that agreement, it seems that the redevelopment would also include market rate housing.
The plans would have Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, near disrepair at the time of its decimation, sell its air rights for some $12 million to the neighboring facility. The sale would have helped the synagogue finance its restoration, and allowed the planning council to build housing, with a significant affordable component, and a community center for the Jewish and Chinese communities on the sites surrounding the synagogue.
As for what’s left of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, plans for its partial demolition approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission will be carried out and the remaining structure will be integrated into the new development “as memorial or new synagogue building,” Bowery Boogie says.
Gotham Organization declined to comment.