We have an update this afternoon from the Angel Orensanz Center, the historic former synagogue building that was shut down due to safety concerns one month ago. While plans are being made to address structural problems, the popular events venue at 172 Norfolk St. will be closed at least through the summer. Here’s a portion of a statement we received a short time ago:
The Angel Orensanz Center was closed by the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) on March 31, 20014 during a benefit event, following damage to a beam supporting a balcony. Since that time structural engineers and other restoration professionals have inspected the building and are preparing a report to be submitted to the Department of Buildings. As a result of the repairs necessary to the Center and the required City agency approvals, it is expected that this major event venue will remain closed to public use for at least four months. At present, the report on the structural condition of the building and schematic design for repairs have been prepared and contractors will be visiting the Center today in order to give estimates and construction timetables for the proposed work. A signed contract with the selected contractor is expected by May 15. The Center is working closely w DOB at every step along the way.
Al Orensanz, director of the Angel Orensanz Center, said:
The safety and security of our guests is absolutely our first concern. We will not open one day before all appropriate city agencies have fully signed off. At the same time, we feel terrible for those whose scheduled events have been affected. We have contacted each of these clients individually – to see if they want to postpone their event until we reopen or if they need help securing an alternative venue. Almost all of them have been sympathetic and patient… We are so relieved that no injuries resulted from the damage to the balcony beam on March 31. Everyone was quickly and safely evacuated and since then, we have been working tirelessly to begin the process of making the needed repairs. We and our professional team of engineers and architects are working closely with the Buildings Department to insure the safe use of the center for generations to come. We are determined that upon restoration, our beloved home will be even better than before.
The former Ansche Chesed Synagogue opened in 1850 as only the second Reform synagogue in New York. It is the oldest structure built as a synagogue in the city. Angel and Al Orensanz bought the building, which had been abandoned a decade earlier, in 1986, and restored the magnificent structure to its former glory. The facility is a major destination for weddings, galas and other high profile events. Al Orensanz also makes the building available at low or no cost to a variety of community organizations. The Orensanz Center is also used by the Shul of New York.
The building was evacuated during a benefit for Soho Rep, the esteemed downtown theater company.