Attorney For Nyack College Buyer Represented Tartikov Case In Pomona
By Tina Traster
Village of South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian on a Tuesday night Zoom board meeting said Nyack College will be purchased by a Hasidic group but withheld details as to how the campus will be used.
Christian said South Nyack Village attorneys met with attorneys for Congregation Vizhnitz on July 16th to discuss the impending sale.
On July 10th, Village Attorney James Birnbaum confirmed in an email to Vizhnitz counsel Joseph Churgin that the congregation has contracted to purchase the campus to operate as a religious school for 250 college students, 250 high school aged students, plus an unspecified number of faculty, staff and family members to live on campus.
Christian also said a site plan and narrative for the property’s use has been requested.
On Tuesday, July 28th, the yeshiva’s counsel said in an email, “We are working on the narrative (diligently, I might add) but a death in the attorney’s family has delayed delivery of the letter.”
Also yesterday, William P. Harrington, outside counsel recently hired by the Village of South Nyack, also wrote to the attorney, saying: “My client wants to do the right thing and public disclosure of information would substantially help that effort.”
Churgin, an attorney with Savad Churgin of Nanuet successfully represented Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov Inc. last year alleging discriminatory zoning practices in Pomona to block an Orthodox Jewish congregation from building a dormitory college for rabbinical students and their families.
There has been a great deal of secrecy around the prospective buyer or buyers of Nyack College but sources have told RCBJ that Rockland County for-profit developer Berel Karniol is involved in the purchase and hopes to redevelop the campus for market-rate housing. Sources say Karniol is working with Gabe Alexander, who was presumed to be the original “for-profit” developer who intended to buy the campus but was not identified in Nyack College’s application to the Village of South Nyack to amend the existing special permit allowing educational and dormitory use on the campus. The deal, believed to be around $45 million, may involve both entities and it is unclear how the two interests would coalesce.
A buyer who intends to use the campus for educational purposes will likely be able to continue the use even if the special permits have lapsed. However, any development or change of use will require variances, zoning changes, or a new special permit.
Two weeks ago, when the board had already received the letter from the Vizhnitz lawyer and when the Mayor publicly claimed to have no idea who the buyer was, she allowed a New Jersey-based architect to present an alternative and detailed vision for the redevelopment of Nyack College. That vision included a new Village hall, library, senior and youth center, performing arts center, playground, and a plethora of housing options.
While the presentation, which had not appeared on the meeting agenda, seemed to come from left field, ENV New Jersey, a national architectural and interior design firm with offices in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Virginia, and Los Angeles, was retained by Procida Funding & Advisors LLC of Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Nyack College’s financial lender, nearly three years ago to evaluate the campus for its infrastructure and the state of its buildings before Procida lent Nyack College $38.5 million.