A developer of a so-called synagondo — a synagogue topped with condominiums — on the Lower East Side could be on the hook for millions of dollars in a lawsuit brought by the congregation over the failed project. A trial on potential damages is set to conclude tomorrow.
The project, conceived in 2006, included plans to build a new four-story temple valued at $6 million on the 225 East Broadway site, which had been home to the Young Israel Synagogue since 1922. The developer also planned to build 24 apartments on 10 floors above the synagogue, then blamed market forces for scuttling the plan in 2010. Anthony Marano, a principal in Ozymandius realty, and Elliot Gibber, who owns Deb El Food Products, both signed agreements holding them personally responsible for the project’s completion.
When the plan fell through, the congregation took both to court, winning the support of New York State Supreme Court Judge O. Peter Sherwood, who ruled that Young Israel was entitled to damages based on the agreed-upon guarantees.
Gibber settled for an undisclosed amount, while the Marano dispute remains active, the blog Lo Down reported.
The synagogue is seeking a total of $10 million in damages.
“The defendants appear to believe that they can exploit the homeless congregation’s current perceived financial and other vulnerabilities to escape the contractual obligations they readily agreed to in a different economic climate,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint. [Lo Down] — Julie Strickland