B’nai Jeshurun and the Heschel School flip roles in $20M UWS trade

By Adam Fusfeld | July 06, 2011 04:06PM

Congregation B’nai Jeshurun purchased the building at 270 West 89th Street from the Abraham Joshua Heschel School for $20 million, according to documents that hit public records today. The trade symbolizes growth for two Jewish institutions on the Upper West Side. B’nai Jeshurun had rented space in the building from Heschel for its Hebrew School since 1984, when B’nai Jeshurun sold the building to Heschel. According to a spokesperson for the synagogue, the congregation was in “financial straits” and needed the funds to support its daily operation at the time. The congregation moved its prayer services to two nearby buildings on 86th and 88th streets, kept its Hebrew School on 89th Street and moved its offices to Midtown as it sought financial stability.

Meanwhile, since acquiring the building, Heschel has grown from a 28-student school, to one that educates 800 students across three buildings. The 270 West 89th Street building is the home of its nursery through fifth grade programs. Now, the school is in the process of constructing a new building at 30 West End Avenue, and is working on selling its existing holdings. As The Real Deal previously reported, its property at 314 West 91st Street, currently home to the high school, traded for $11.75 million to the Ideal School in May.

Heschel was not immediately available for comment as its offices close early during the summer.

For now, in a reversal of roles, Heschel will rent the space it currently occupies from B’nai Jeshurun until its new building at 30 West End Avenue is complete — at which point the synagogue will move its entire operation into 270 West 89th Street. According to a spokesperson for B’nai Jeshurun, the congregation has gained strength thanks to the leadership of its recent clergy and had raised enough money to finance the purchase with a $6 million mortgage. The synagogue has commissioned Mitchell Giurgola Architects to redesign the new building.