UPDATED: 6:15 p.m., Dec. 24: An Orthodox synagogue that was slated to be evicted Jan. 7 from its West 16th Street space today was granted a temporary emergency stay of eviction, The Real Deal has learned.
The eviction of the Sixteenth Street Synagogue would have allowed developer Jack Braha — the owner of the building that the synagogue has partially occupied for some 67 years — to move forward in converting the property into luxury rentals, as The Real Deal reported last week. The eviction did not target the synagogue specifically; it was aimed instead at Braha’s development partner Steven Ancona, whom Braha alleges did not perform on his lease deal for the synagogue space. Without any written contract between the synagogue and Ancona, the Ashkenazic congregation was to be forced to leave its longtime Flatiron District home.
But today, State Supreme Court Judge Martin Shulman issued the stay of eviction — pending the resolution of the synagogue’s claim that it has a one-third ownership stake in the building, situated at 3 West 16th Street. A hearing on the matter is slated for Jan. 8. The judge will then decide to continue the synagogue’s temporary stay for further deliberation or to deny it.
“It’s the first meaningful step for us getting our day in court,” said Richard McBee, the synagogue’s president.
In response to the temporary eviction stay, Braha told The Real Deal that he will let the ruling of a 2011 Appellate Court judgment “stand on its own merits.” One of the rulings in this case states that the synagogue, as one of the plaintiffs, “cannot simply transpose Mr. Ancona’s intentions, good wishes and aspirations onto the landlord as enforceable obligations,” adding that the synagogue has no equitable ownership interest in the building.
“I just want our point of view to be heard in court,” McBee said. “If it isn’t heard, then there’s no justice.”