30-Story Tower at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Site Begins Ascent

Posted on: September 7th, 2021 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Roger Bultot

The canyon of development along the backside of Essex Crossing on Broome Street is growing. Indeed, the foundation is down and ascent of a towering new building underway at the former Beth Hamedrash Hagadol site.

After months of excavation, the first elements of the superstructure are now visible above the plywood. One-story height.

As previously reported, the block-long parcel on Broome will sprout two towering buildings. This is the first phase; 55 Suffolk Street, a thirty-story beast with 378 apartments, one-quarter of which are considered “permanently affordable.” The adjoining affordable development at 64 Norfolk Street is next, slated to rise sixteen stories, and follow later this spring.

Co-developed by Chinese-American Planning Council nonprofit and the Gotham Organization, the overall project is composed of nearly 520,000 square-feet, spread across 493 apartments, various commercial retail, and community facilities. Of the residential tally, 209 residences are earmarked affordable housing (115 for seniors). There is also a 4,000 square-foot commercial condo for Beth Hamedrash Hagodol.

Photo: Roger Bultot

Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, designated a city landmark in 1967, was the first American congregation established by immigrants from the Russian Empire, and was the oldest Russian Orthodox house of worship in the country. The historic Gothic Revival structure it occupied was built in 1850 as a Baptist church and purchased by the shul in 1885 for $45,000 (about $1.2 million today).

In May 2017, a teenaged arsonist torched the landmark. The three-alarm fire was absolute in its destruction. There were no charges for the crime.

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