Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ozymandias' Synagondo

Recently, a fired-up crowd turned out to save the 100-year-old Meseritz Synagogue on East 6th from becoming yet another condo/luxe apartments. Later, the developer backed out, saying they are "no longer affiliated with this project." The plan is (was?) to demolish the synagogue and construct a new building in which the synagogue would take the first floor with luxury apartments upstairs.

It won't be the first time such a plan was put into motion, and it won't be the last. Let's call them "synagondos."

Grand Street News says "these types of religious-residential hybrid buildings may become more common as developers look to capitalize on a great location and synagogues look to improve their finances and physical conditions."

The same thing is happening at the Young Israel Synagogue on East Broadway. The scaffolding went up last June, according to Loho10002, and the permit says it's going to be a 23-unit, 14-story residential tower--with a synagogue on the first floors.

The luxury residents will be using a separate entrance from the congregation.

The building originally housed the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in 1881, and the first Young Israel in America moved here in 1912. Though it looks gutted, today the building is still standing--on a street where signs printed in Hebrew can still be seen. Another vanishing sight in this fastly fading city.

I can't find any renderings of the synagondo to come, but here's what the developer, Ozymandius Realty, wants to bring to Great Jones Street: Take a gander at this "flower among the weeds."

As an interesting aside, Ozymandius is kind of an odd name to choose for a real estate development company. Shelley's "Ozymandias" (spelled with an "a," but with a "u" on their site) is all about hubris and the fall of a civilization marked by "short-sighted pride." It's about how men build structures, thinking they will rival God, and then those men die and their structures crumble. What's left is the "desolation that results from the impulse to impose oneself on the landscape."

Anyway, here's Shelley:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."


ShatteredMonocle said...

Reminds me of God's dorm on 12th. It's just plain weird.

A Jewish Girl said...

gut en you (phonetic) yiddish-
what can I say?

arielariel said...

i used to work at a synagogue and they were considering a capital campaign. one option definitely floated was this kind of partnership.

if i remember right, the rough version is something like the developer can add the square footage from the synagogue on to the top of the building -- basically, donate the physical space to charity. the synagogue gets a huge cut on the space, and the developer can more than make the money back with the extra vertical space.

for a synagogue that was hoping for a building, that kind of thing is a huge benefit. i left before any of it got hashed out, but you can see the attraction. what a weird deal.