QUEENS — The congregation of a prominent Rego Park synagogue will get new space in a planned Queens Boulevard office building, but only under new leadership, the building’s landlord told DNAinfo New York Tuesday.
Rudolf Abramov said there is no timeline yet for the construction of the 5-story, 100,000-square-foot office tower at 98-81 Queens Blvd. — the current home of Ohr Natan Synagogue — but there are plans for a space in the building to fit more than 1,000 congregants.
“[There is] definitely going to be a synagogue, just not under the same leadership,” Abramov said, adding that it will be a “more organized and more democratic synagogue where people pick their leader.”
Rabbi Nahum Kaziev, who leads the Bukharian Jewish synagogue, said he and his congregants doubt Abramov's promises and cannot afford to build a new space after spending more than $2 million on a 4-year renovation of the former art Art Deco Trylon Theatre.
"We don’t believe them at all. We don't trust them at all," Kaziev told DNAinfo. “It might be a big tragedy in the community."
A spokesman for the real estate group marketing the building, CBRE, was not able to comment on which floor of the new building a potential synagogue would be on.
The current property was sold in December 2012 for $9 million.
The synagogue has already survived an eviction effort after it filed a suit in 2014 to stay in the building through its lease.
"They were trying very hard to evict us for the space to be ready for demolition," the rabbi said.
A spokesman for CBRE said they are still looking for an anchor tenant and that it would take about two years to construct once the main occupant is secured.
The first floor will be reserved for retail and the other four floors for medical offices.
Abramov said that regardless of the timeline there is “definitely going to be new leadership [at the synagogue] once their lease expires” early next year.
Kaziev responded that this is just a way for the landlord to intimidate the community.
"The owner feels that he’s in the KGB and operates the communist party," the rabbi said. "They don’t want us to open our mouth. This is how they try to scare everybody."