Image source: stevenhenderso on Twitter
We read this on twitter yesterday and it got us intrigued:
stevenhenderso: What’s being constructed next to the #bukharian synagogue on 70th Ave across from post office? #foresthills #fohi http://t.co/KuNGFBZ9
Turns out we were right to be intrigued – a lot has gone on at this site at 106-20 70th Avenue in Forest Hills (GMAP). Above is a photo of the current state of construction. It’s going to be an 8 story building containing a new 2,200 square foot synagogue for Havurat Yisrael, a modern orthodox congregation that has been in the area for over 30 years (established in 1981). The building will also offer office space (likely medical facilities) as well as condos – there will be 24 units, no off-street parking, and a outdoor paved patio area in the back. Here’s a site plan diagram (click to enlarge):
Image source: DOB
Havurat Yisrael – known as a very open congregation, one that accepts anyone with a desire to study Judaism no matter what their ethnic background is or their level of observance - had been in this location before. But in 1998, their small brick building was badly damaged by construction next door on the building that was the site of a former Bukharian temple (it’s now the Bukharian Jewish Community Center).
Eventually, Havurat Yisrael received several hundred thousand dollars in an insurance settlement. The fundraising committee also raised money from the congregation for new construction along the lines of $1 million through pledges. The plan was for the building to be six stories, but that has changed to eight.
The New York City Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) notes that this property “has been linked to the property to the south which was a parking garage (1930’s through 1960’s), service station (1970’s), and synagogue (1980’s forward).” They also discovered there were oil tanks buried underground. So they did have to do a bit of cleanup first, the details of which can be found here in the OER’s cleanup plan. It’s all good now.
Earlier reports expect construction to take 18 months – the zoning plans were approved in February 2012, so with a little math, perhaps the building will be completed by end of summer 2013.