Cost overruns force N.Y. synagogue to halt construction
A leading Modern Orthodox synagogue in New York City has halted construction on its new building due to financial problems.
The president of Lincoln Square Synagogue, which is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, has stepped down as well.
The synagogue last week posted a notice on its website saying that the cost of its new building at 180 Amsterdam Ave. “has run higher than originally expected. In order to raise additional funds, the synagogue will be seeking joint venture partners or a naming donor before resuming construction.”
A memo sent to members at the end of the week said the synagogue’s president, Scott Liebman, had stepped down, according to reports.
“Scott decided that it is in the Shul’s best interest to have a fresh start with new leadership to manage the building project,” said the letter signed by the synagogue’s vice presidents and reprinted in the Forward. “The expanded team now working on the project will continue to have the benefit of Scott’s knowledge and expertise, and we thank Scott for pouring his life into this project for the last eleven years.”
The synagogue has been a center of Modern Orthodoxy since Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, now the chief rabbi of Efrat and head of the Ohr Torah Stone institutions, joined the synagogue in the mid-1960s. Riskin moved to Israel in 1983.
The synagogue is in the middle of construction on a three-story, 50,000-square-foot building located 100 feet south of its current building. The cost was originally put at $28 million but has ballooned by as much as $17 million, which the synagogue reportedly does not yet have, according to The New York Jewish Week.
“I feel confident that we will resume construction on our new building and am gratified by the outpouring of energy and drive that has already burst forward as a result of the news,” said Rabbi Shaul Robinson, the senior rabbi at Lincoln Square, wrote in a statement on the synagogue’s website.
The synagogue has 650 membership units.