Today is the Anniversary of 2 Devastating Lower East Side Fires

Posted on: May 14th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

Fires on May 14

Today, May 14, is a day that lives in infamy on the Lower East Side. Two fires, separated by eight years, devastated the properties, displaced tenants, and ultimately led to new development.

Hong Kong Supermarket Fire (2009)

May 2009

It was exactly ten years ago.

May 14 was a Thursday that year. That night, with the smell of smoke flooding our apartment, we headed downstairs to behold the fire burning through the Hong Kong Supermarket on East Broadway (at Pike Street). Firefighters battled through the night to extinguish the flames, but not enough to save numbers 105 and 107.

Four years after the wreckage cleared, new development spawned, housing a Marriott Fairfield Inn with a Chinese supermarket on the ground level. A six-story building later rose atop 107 East Broadway in 2016.

Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Fire (2017)

In 2017, May 14 was a Sunday. Mother’s Day, in fact. Late that afternoon, the nearly two-century-old structure housing Beth Hamedrash Hagadol caught fire. The house of worship – erected in 1850 as a Baptist church and purchased by the Russian Orthodox congregation in 1885 – was burned beyond repair.

What remains now is a nub of its former self, elements to be incorporated into a new development.

As previously reported, the new development at 60 Norfolk spans the block of Broome Street, and is composed of two towers. The first is a 16-story mid-rise (up from ten in the original plan) with 115 affordable apartments for seniors and a 4,000 square-foot commercial condo for Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, both as sanctuary and a Jewish cultural heritage center that can be converted to office space in future.

Photo: Gotham Organization

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