The Sixteenth Street Synagogue has enlisted Winick Realty Group to help it find a new home one month after the Appellate Court denied the 67-year-old congregation a stay of eviction, The Commercial Observer has learned.
Winick Associate Director Joshua Siegelman and his colleague Jonathan Banayan are taking the assignment to heart as they seek landlords in the Chelsea and Flatiron neighborhoods to provide a new home for the Orthodox synagogue, which has been offering Shabbat, morning and afternoon prayer services in a revolving roster of temporary spaces since it was ordered to clear out of its former–and only–home at 3 West 16th Street.
As The New York Observer reported, the displacement stems from a protracted legal battle that pitted Steven Ancona–a member of the Sephardic Synagogue Magen David, a Sixteenth Street Synagogue affiliate that worshiped on the second floor–against Jack Braha, a Syrian businessman who in the mid-2000s became the sole owner of the building.
“They had an agreement where the synagogue understood they’d be there for eternity,” Mr. Banayan said.
Although the courts weren’t swayed by that interpretation of the deal, the synagogue does hope to put down new roots not far from its original home. “They’ve been in the neighborhood for many years,” Mr. Siegelman said. “We’re looking to consider the area between 8th Street and 23rd Street from Third Avenue to Seventh Avenue.”
“This assignment is near and dear to our hearts,” Messrs. Banayan and Siegelman–both of whom are Jewish–said. “We hope to find a landlord who feels the same way.”
The Sixteenth Street Synagogue’s original home had 1,900 square feet of ground floor space comprising a lobby, bathrooms, library and main sanctuary. The 2,3000-square-foot second floor contained a kiddush room for after-service refreshments and a children’s playroom. The synagogue counts 100 regular members, but the commuting worker and international congregations attending thrice daily minions add up to thousands of visitors each year.
The current temporary accommodations are not sufficient, and Messrs. Siegelman and Banayan hope to find a part-time or permanent space of 1,500 to 3,000 square feet. “They’re very sensitive to the configuration and, as an Orthodox congregation, require separate spaces for men and women,” Mr. Banayan said. “And while we understand ground floors are tough to come by, the synagogue can’t go much higher than the second floor due to Shabbat observances.”
“One thing the synagogue has offered is giving up naming rights,” Mr. Siegelman said. “If someone wants to name the building in honor of someone else, they can do that.”
Messrs. Siegelman and Banayan are confident they will find a new space for the synagogue in the coming months.