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Synagogue awaits OK for new Bayside construction

A Bayside synagogue is now awaiting the decision of the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in its last-ditch effort to build a new, three-story home.

The Chabad House of Northeast Queens wants to erect a new structure on 26th Avenue. So far, the synagogue’s members have been shot down by Community Board 11 twice, but their lawyer seems hopeful that the third time will be the charm.

Chabad attorney Adam Rothkrug has made several unsuccessful presentations to Community Board 11, which voted against approving variances on the project twice.

The proposed synagogue needs at least five variances from the city because if the new structure were to be built as it is now planned, it would exceed height restrictions, take up too much land on the plot and would not be set back far enough from the sidewalk on 26th Avenue for the current zoning.

Rothkrug attended a hearing with Claire Shulman shortly before she left her borough president post, but no official word was given on whether the synagogue’s project had obtained her endorsement. Rothkrug could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday.

Community Board 11 member Melvyn Meer, who has been opposed to the Chabad project, said at least 20 neighborhood residents attended the Tuesday afternoon hearing in Manhattan to protest the planned construction.

“Nobody there was for it,” said Meer, who made a presentation to the BSA on behalf of CB 11.

Meer said BSA members seemed impressed by a computer graphic made by a resident which shows how large the building would be if it is constructed as planned. The proposed synagogue would be the largest building in the neighborhood and overshadow many surrounding structures.

According to a glossy, 14-page brochure describing the new synagogue, the Yankel Rosenbaum Center will provide a number of services. A preschool, a community Hebrew school and teen center, mikvahs, or ritual baths, an Adult Education Institute & Library, a parenting center and full service synagogue were all described at length in the brochure.

Plans filed with the city show the proposed synagogue would have a kitchen, offices, classrooms, several bathrooms and a sanctuary with room for 140 people. Because there would be no fixed seating in the synagogue, according to the plans, the builder is not required to provide parking for the new 9,000-square-foot house of worship.

The Chabad House of Northeast Queens has been operating out of a one-family home at the corner of 26th Avenue and 213th Street that they purchased in 1999. The new synagogue will be built on the same location.

The area on the south side of 26th Avenue, directly across from Bay Terrace Shopping Center, is dominated by one-family homes and is on the edge of a large residential area. Residents have been particularly concerned about increased traffic in the area since the nearby shopping center began an expansion late last year.

In several weeks the BSA will issue its ruling in the case.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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