Last night, at Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee meeting, CONGREGATION SHEARITH ISRAEL was at it again – balking, evading, misleading, and otherwise muddying the record in their scheme to build above and beyond zoning that protects the historic, predominantly brownstone-scale West 70th Street midblock.   The meeting disbanded without a resolution or a vote, to be continued in November.


CSI once again avoided any discussion of its 2013 Department of Buildings (DOB) filing which included only three of the fifteen classrooms CSI claimed to need so desperately.  These classrooms were the basis of the NYC Board of Standards & Appeals’s 2008 “hardship” decision to grant CSI a slew of zoning variances, including extra height.


Just weeks ago, CSI’s design team quietly filed documents with the Landmarks Preservation Commission that acknowledged “use changes at 1-4th floors,” updating previously filed plans that showed offices instead of classrooms (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!).


This shell game only underscores the fact that “programmatic needs” are immaterial to this application.  CSI’s primary interest is the five floors of luxury condo(s) stacked on top.


Other changes CSI brushes off as “minor”:


     – 2008 “Commons Function Room” has been replaced in 2016 by “Mechanical, community facility offices & archives”
     – 2008 Reading room replaced in 2016 with stroller storage
     – 2008 occupiable outdoor terrace replaced in 2016 with mechanical space  


Along with more than a half dozen other changes on just four of the nine floors and two basements!


Despite years of second attempts, CSI’s team continues to mislead the public.
Read the statement prepared by Architect Craig Morrison, AIA for the Board of Standards and Appeals discussing his interpretation of the changes HERE.
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