NEW YORK CITY-The search for a new site for the Lincoln Square Synagogue began five years ago and has finally culminated in a deal that allows the synagogue to relocate and provides a majority of the construction financing. American Continental Properties Inc. has agreed to a land swap on the Upper West Side to make way for the development.

Moshe Sukenik, EVP of Newmark Knight Frank, tells that the five-year search has ended in a way that “no one envisioned” years ago when the process began. The Lincoln Square Synagogue occupies two adjacent sites that had unused air rights and contained one older building that was in disrepair at 200 Amsterdam Ave. Through the years a number of plans were suggested, including selling the sites to a residential developer who would build the synagogue into the base of the project, and teaming up with a nonprofit that was looking to build.

As these two deals were beginning to take form another began brewing. “The ACP stepped up to the plate with a more aggressive offer,” Sukenik says. The offer was a trade. The Synagogue, which couldn’t move far since the congregation walks to services, would take a 12,000-sf parcel on Amsterdam Avenue that is part of a bigger site owned by ACP. The new location is roughly 100 feet from the former one and will be a stand-alone which Sukenik says is virtually impossible to find in today’s market for a nonprofit. For its part ACP would take the Synagogue’s two parcels and write a check that would cover a majority of the 52,000-sf building’s construction costs for the new Lincoln Square Synagogue.

“By developing a creative land swap, we are able to build a new synagogue that both suits the membership’s needs and through the architectural design, continue Lincoln Square’s role as the leader of modern Orthodoxy,” says Scott Liebman, head of the synagogue’s new building committee.

Sukenik declined to reveal how much ACP paid in the transaction, stating only it was more than 50% of the projected, but unrevealed, construction costs. The Synagogue has also leased back its former space for a little more than a year. Construction is slated to begin immediately with a completion date set in 2008.

Even before the deal closed, which happened earlier this week, the Synagogue hired architectural firm Centra/Ruddy. The design is not yet complete, but Nancy Ruddy, a principal with the firm, says inspiration was being drawn from the “symbolism of the prayer shawl.”

“This is a very exciting time for our congregation,” says Rabbi Shaul Robinson, in a statement about the deal. “We are building something that will hold a defining place in each of our lives. This is a unique moment in which the vibrant spirit can be captured and enhanced through the development of a new home. This is also a historic moment for our congregation and Judaism. Many of our congregants are from families that survived the Holocaust and saw their communities and synagogues destroyed. This is an opportunity for us to right this wrong and to build a home that, hopefully, will last for a long time.”

The project is thought to be the largest synagogue to be built in at least 50 years.

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