Dedicated to the preservation of New York City's historic landmarked West 70th Street and
protection from the incursion of an inappropriate condominum tower at the Shearith Israel Synagogue site.

Home | History | Proceedings | Transcripts| Drawings/Renderings | Model Photos | Perspective | Archives | Zoning | Resources | Landmark West | Addresses/Links
| 2003 Web Site
|*** 2007-2008 BSA Documents*** | Abbreviations and Jargon | Important Topics | Ramaz Project

Audio Transcript of March 14, 2006 LPC Hearing
Statement of Roberta Gratz in Opposition
Statement of Landmark West re March 14, 2006 Hearing
Letter of Alan Sugarman as to Irregularities at March Hearing
Response Letter re Sugarman Complaint re Irregularities
Drawings submitted by Congregation at March 14, 2006 hearing
Comments of Landmark West Re March 14, meeting and January 17, 2006 Meeting
January 26, 2006 Letter to Tierny from Mark Lebow
February 21, 2006 Letter to Tierny from Mark Lebow
January 11, 2006 Letter from to the LPC raises many new issues.

2005 Documents
August 15, 2005 Application to LPC
August 15, 2005 letter from Friedman Gotbaum to LPC
Architectural's Submitted to LPC August 15, 2005

Project Renderings-color
Project Renderings - grayscale
Community Board 7 Resolution - October 6, 2005
Photos of 2005 Models and Renderings

November 15, 2005 Statements:
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried
Landmark West!

Norman Marcus
Elliott D. Sclar



Posted March 10, 2006
At 9:15 AM on March 14, 2006 - the LPC will hold a public meeting to discuss, and most likely vote upon, the proposal. Typically, the LPC waited until the last minute to provide notice to the public.The time and notice was not posted until 4:00 PM on Friday, March 10,. but, one seems to suspect the lawyers for the Congregation have been informed of the time and place

March 14, 2006 LPC Approval: The LPC Hearings November 15, 2005 etc. and the CB7 hearings.

In August, 2005, the Congregation returned to the LPC with a new proposal - reducing the building to eleven stories (which included 2 penthouse floors). The Congregation then was able to move the process along by getting a quick hearing before the CB7 Committee on September 21, 2005 and then a quick hearing before the full CB7 Committee on October 6, 2005. Then, the Congegation was able to obtain another quick hearing before the LPC on November 15, 2006 - with another LPC hearing on January 17, 2006 and the final hearing on March 14, 2006 (this was supposed to be a meeting, not a hearing, but, indeed it was a hearing in violation of LPC rules.)

Before CB7, the Congregation represented that it had been working with LPC and LPC had approved the height of the new proposal (not so - see below), but, somewhow, the Congregation had its way at several levels. First, it was able to proceed with the Committee hearing when Committee well understood by all that the public had not received the documentation. The Committee should have adjourned the meeting until the information was made available. Second, the resolution being considered by the Committee was not read until after the public testified - and the proposed resolution incredibly had "dicta" language approving the height of the proposed project. Then, the Committee hearing failed to mention that the full Board would consider the matter two weeks later - I guess CB7 regulars would have figured this out, but few opponents showed up at the October 6, hearing. So, the skids were well greased for the Congregation.

Some history: The Big "Lie":
The 2003 proposal was withdrawn after a December 9, 2004 LPC hearing and open meeting. Comments of some of the commissioners at the meeting was used in the Congregation's August 15, 2005 letter to the LPC submitting the latest proposal. The Congregation apparently wishes to everyone to believe that at the December, 2004 meeting, the LPC had said that it would approve a building that was not higher than 18 West 70st.. Putting aside the fact that the LPC did not vote in 2004 and that two of the five commissioners selectively quoted in the Congregation letter are no longer Commissioners (Paulsen and Kane), a full reading of the transcript would show that this never happened. No official transcript was prepared by the LPC, so, the Congregation was able to selectively quote. Click here to download and listen to mp3 .

How did the LPC Modify the Project at the March 14, 2006 hearing as compared with the Proposal Reviewed by CB7

In very marginal ways - importantly, however, even though the Congregation lied to CB7 claiming that LPC had approved the height, indeed, LPC forced the Congregation to remove one penthouse floor.

There were very few changes between the design opposed by CB7 at its October 6, 2005 meeting and the design approved by LPC. See comparison. The primary change was removing the upper level of the proposed penthouse; the lower level of the penthouse retains the same footprint. The lobby level was changed slightly.

It is useful to review the CB7 minutes, resolution, and committee minutes. Following is an excerpt from the CB7 minutes.

There was a lengthy discussion of the references to height and bulk in the resolution and the effects these could have on the Board’s future decisions on the applicant’s land use applications to the Board of Standards & Appeals.  Lenore Norman argued that appropriateness must address the height and bulk of the building as part of the design.  Klari Neuwelt offered an amendment to eliminate all mention of height.  Chaumtoli Huq seconded. The amendment failed: 2-24-1.  Ms. Neuwelt also objected to the reference to the symmetry of the building, citing the lack of symmetry on the north and south facades.

The resolution was amended, as follows:

Reference to bulk deleted.

Change references to height and symmetry to “height is acceptable from an esthetic point of view and the symmetry of the eastern facade is pleasing.”

Here are the Community Board 7 members present at that meeting.

Members Present: Hope Cohen, Andrew Albert, Richard Asche, Page Cowley, Alberto Cruz, Lance Dashefsky, Sheldon Fine, Georgette Gittens, Victor Gonzalez, Phyllis Gunther, Marlene Guy, David Harris, Chaumtoli Huq, Joyce Johnson, Ulma Jones, Barbara Katzander, Barbara Keleman, Eric Nelson, Klari Neuwelt, Lenore Norman, Gabrielle Palitz, Sharon Parker-Frazier, Luis Reyes, Oscar Rios, Madge Rosenberg, Helen Rosenthal, Charles Simon, Sean Small, Patricia Stevens, Steve Strauss, Barbara Van Buren, Thomas Vitullo-Martin, D. Maria Watson, Melanie Wymore, George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero, Dan Zweig.

Members Not Present: Barbara Adler, Linda Alexander, Annette Averette, Guillermo Gonzalez, Jean Green-Dorsey, Douglas Griebel, Robert Herrmann, Lawrence Horowitz, John Howell, Melanie Radley, Freddie Richardson, Ethel Sheffer, Elizabeth Starkey.  Member on Leave: Betty Katz.

So, one would concluded that Kari Neuwelt and Chaumtoli Huq were prescient in opposing the height of the building - but that Lenore Norman who headed the Committee that is responsible for these matters took a different position, one favorable to the Congregation when it seeks approval of the building by the BSA, and swayed the full Board.

This is one of the more confusing issues - it would seem that most CB7 members were not aware of the import of this resolution and the amendment sought.

On November 15, 2005, the LPC held its first hearing to consider the new August 15, 2005, proposal of the Congregation. After a three hour hearing, the LPC adjourned to another date for a discussion. No vote was held. Most speakers, other than synagogue members opposed the building. Alas, some may not be aware, but YOUR Community Board 7, on October 6, 2005, in a little noticed hearing, passed a resolution opposing the design, but also stated "that the proposed building's height and bulk" was acceptable. Yet, in so doing, the Community Board impermissibly made a finding as to the "goodness" of the purposes of the proposal, tainting its finding. It cannot at the same time make a finding, but not inquire into the validity of the finding. Given the current facilities, it would seem that the most significant facility that the congregation is receiving is a CATERING FACILITY.

Almost all speakers at the LPC hearing opposed the height, and pointed out that approving such a tall building so far into the side street would be a precedent for others to increase the heights of their buildings in similar circumstances. As an example, directly across the street from the vacant lot, where the synagogue proposes a tower of 124.5 feet, is a 58 foot brownstone at 11 W. . If one follows the Synagogue's logic, the owner of 11 W. should be able to build a penthouse and double the height of his building, so that the owner can send his kids to college.

We urge you to read the Community Board 7 Resolution, which is curious indeed, since almost every member of the surrounding community took a position opposing the height of the proposal.

Even more curious: the Resolution resolved that the Synagogue should provide "sightlines from the public way, Central Park, and the neighboring buildings", but, even without those sightlines, the Board went ahead and approved the height of the building. Later, the Synagogue presented carefully selected sightlines for the LPC.

We will try to obtain a copy of the statements. If you made a statement, we will post. Send to

In the column to the left, please find the comments of the organization Landmark West.

Community Board Hearing:
On September 21, 2005, a hearing was held by the Landmarks Committee of the Local Community Board. The Committee resoundingly rejected the Synagogue's latest proposal as being inappropriate. Some of the comments of the committee members discussed the incompatible design including the clashing horizontal windows of the facade, as contrasted with the arches in both the Synagogue building to the East and the adjoining building to the West. There were also negative comments as to the choice of materials.

Members of the public criticized the scale of the project, the continued refusal to share information with the public, the lack of landscaping, the fact that there are no compensating benefits to the community despite the claim of community usage, the failure of the Synagogue to provide perspective drawings from actual locations on the street, the failure of the synagogue to provide studies showing the affect on light, etc.

Previously, in 2003, the Synagogue had claimed that a tower was desperately needed to provide an economic engine to restore the landmarked synagogue building. The Synagogue even submitted a restoration plan that would be funded by the building, but, as this web site illustrated in 2003, much of that work was already done.

This time, the Synagogue has avoided the economic argument - the thrust now is that the building is needed to provide better access to the Synagogue, to house a library of historic archives, and to provide "community facilities". These community facilities include eight classrooms - but, interestingly, the Synagogue disclosed that the school currently operating in he building is actually a tenant of the Synagogue but the facilities are still needed for the Synagogue programs even if there were no school. Hmmm.

Very odd. Even odder was the proposed design. It seems clear that the expansive glass windows in the proposed building are a design point driven, not by any semblance of design appropriateness, but by the market. Purchasers of $10 million condominiums want large glass windows. Of course, none of the owners of any other buildings at West. 70th Street, such as 101 Central Park West, would even dare to ask to replace current windows with huge glass expanses. But, the Synagogue thinks nothing of blighting the street - of course, what would one expect from an institution that has studiously refused to participate in the program to plant trees on Manhattan streets.

Also, shrouded in mystery is how the synagogue intends to finance the building - one seems to suspect that there are pledges by some of the quite wealthy congregants to buy the few luxury units - a nice choice ultra-modern condominium. The Synagogue gets quite nervous when these issues are raised.

The Synagogue also gets nervous when the subject of the value of the air rights over the landmarked synagogue is raised - may it be sold and transferred to another location?

In the end, Synagogue members will get a new building for weddings and other events - at no cost at all to the members.

But, the Synagogue acts as if it has already cut a deal with the LPC, and that would be sad indeed.

Stay tuned.