Anshei Sfard’s deal to sell its property to a Texas developer is off.
John Gilbert, president and chief operating officer of Houston-based Bomasada, which agreed in August to purchase the Dutchmans Lane synagogue and grounds, told Community Wednesday that the sale would not go through. Bomasada had been planning to build a 268-unit apartment complex there.
“We knew it was going to be a tough deal,” he said, “but when we submitted our preliminary proposal to the city, I just didn’t get the warm and fuzzies.”
The fate of the deal directly affects the Community Mikvah – the ritual bath – which sits on synagogue property and pays to use the congregation’s utilities. As late as this week, officials of the Louisville Vaad HaKashruth, which owns the mikvah, were making plans to build a new one at another site.
And according to Anshei Sfard Rabbi Simcha Snaid, they still should.
Snaid said the congregation still plans to sell the property. Also, deal or no deal, it is proceeding with plans to move to Shalom Tower, where it is already paying rent.
“I’m trying to configure how the sanctuary will be set up so we can move stuff over there as soon as possible,” he said.
And Fred Levein, a broker associate for RE/MAX 100 who is representing Anshei Sfard, said he has other parties who are interested in the property.
So Snaid, who sits on the Vaad’s mikvah committee, which is exploring options for a new site, said the panel should press on with its work.
“They may have bought some time,” he said, “but I wouldn’t be complacent.”
Vaad President Jack Czerkiewicz and the chair of the mikvah committee, Jacob Wishnia, said the Vaad has already approved a motion to seek use of a site near Shalom Tower, directly behind the synagogue, which is owned by the Jewish Community of Louisville (JCL).
JCL President and CEO Sara Klein Wagner confirmed she has been in touch with Vaad officials about the project, but a proposal has not been received.
“We know how important a mikvah is to our community,” Wagner said. “Once we receive a formal proposal, we will review with the JCL Board.”
The Vaad also is working on a proposed design with Mikvah USA, a New York-based nonprofit that helps communities develop mikvahs. The Vaad is in the process of choosing an architect, and it has plans to mount a capital campaign.
None of which should be affected by the loss of this buyer.
“I’m sure they’ll find someone to purchase it,” Czerkiewicz said. “It gives us a little more time, but we’re still going to move forward and have a plan in place. It’s not something we have to do in a hurry now.”