Jan. 17, 2018 By Tara Law
The Forest Hills Jewish Center will be demolished and replaced by a 10-story mixed used building that will include the synagogue, classrooms and other amenities.
The synagogue is preparing to partner with a developer to reconstruct its 106-06 Queens Boulevard facilities. The center will own and operate a section of the new building when its complete.
The new facilities will include classrooms, a ballroom, offices and a synagogue. Specific details on the new structure are still being finalized.
During construction, all of the center’s activities, including the synagogue and the school programs, will move into a temporary modular facility on Austin Street.
The building’s age, rising costs and the smaller size of the community have made the move necessary, said Deborah Gregor, the executive director. The current synagogue can seat 1,200 to 1,300 congregants— “bigger than we need,” she said.
The Forest Hills Jewish Center provides minyan daily, a preschool, various educational programs and other services. Approximately 500 families are currently members of the community.
The congregation was founded in 1931 on Kessel Street, and it moved into its current building in the late 1940s.
“We want to make sure that we are responding to the community that exists now,” Gregor said. “It’s time for this congregation to plan for the next 75, 80, 100 years.”
The developer, who Gregor declined to name, will pay for the construction of the new building in exchange for the land.
The project has been in the works for 20 years, but changes to the zoning laws now permit the project to go forward, Gregor said.
In 2018, the center’s administration will present the proposal to the congregation for approval. The plans will then be passed on to the Attorney General for approval, a process that typically takes four to six months.
A modular structure will be constructed in 2019 if the plans are approved, and the center will move into the structure that year. The existing building will likely be demolished that year.
The temporary structure will look something like “Legos,” Gregor said. It will likely be 2-stories, and have bathrooms, air-conditioning, windows, a prep kitchen and other amenities.
Gregor declined to say exactly where the structure will be built, but said that the center would lease the land where it will be located.
Selfhelp Community Services, an independent program that takes place at the synagogue, will also be relocated to the modules.
The center aims to avoid cancelling its services for “even one day,” Gregor said while the transition takes place.
Construction of the new building will likely take two and a half to three years.