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Wednesday Midday Update: Cracked Columns at the Angel Orensanz Center

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Angel Orensanz Center, 172 Norfolk St.
Angel Orensanz Center, 172 Norfolk St.

We have been keeping a close eye on the situation at the Angel Orensanz Center, the historic former synagogue at 172 Norfolk St.  The Department of Buildings issued a full “vacate order” Monday night after cracks were detected in support beams.  Since that time, architects and structural engineers have been examining the building and they’re now finalizing a plan to address the structural issues with the 165 year-old building.

Maria Neri, the center’s events director, told us she anticipates an engineering report will be completed in the next day or so. In the past 24 hours, preservation consultant Holly Kaye has been working with Neri and Al Orensanz, the building’s co-owner, to get a technical team in place.  A local preservation group, Friends of the Lower East Side, notified the Landmarks Conservancy as well as the Landmarks Preservation Commission about what’s happening. Many of their efforts are aimed at making sure the Department of Buildings gives the architectural and engineering consultants time to come up with both short term and long term action plans.

This morning, Damaris Olivo, a spokesperson for the commission told The Lo-Down, “(We) are in contact with the Department of Buildings to determine the scope of the existing damage. We’ll also be conducting a site visit to assess the building’s condition and speaking with the building owner.”

The Orensanz Center has a very full schedule of private events, including weddings and high profile galas.  When the facility was evacuated Monday night, Soho Rep, the Tribeca theater company, was holding a star-studded spring fundraiser.  In the past day, we have heard from anxious people and organizations who have weddings and other events planned at Angel Orensanz.  Last night, Maria Neri said she’ll be in contact with people who have booked the facility just as soon as the initial building stability issues are resolved.

The Angel Orensanz Center was designated a city landmark 27 years ago. You can read the Landmarks Commission’s designation report below.


Angel Orensanz Center – Designation Report by The Lo-Down


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