Lush urban garden with fishpond
The garden at 111 East 85 Street is a magnificently planted and tended oasis in this city block. The garden, which features a fish pond and lush vegetation, extends 60' back from the sidewalk, alongside the entrance to 111 East 85 Street (which has an 85th Street address, but the bulk of this building is on the 86th Street side of the lot which runs through to 86th Street where there is an additional small planted plaza).
The garden sets off a 60 foot expanse of the western wall of the synagogue housing Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (a 1906 building of historical and architectural interest) -- a wall with beautiful stained glass windows that glow like jewels above this beautiful garden at twilight and night. This aspect is threatened by the congregation's plan to build a plexiglass enclosed outdoor play yard and outdoor event space atop the synagogue as well as a 28 story structure with luxury condos atop a new religious school and community house on the property owned by the congregation to the east of the synagogue (now occupied by a low rise community center and school).
If the garden is overshadowed by the proposed tower (which requires multiple variances because it exceeds zoning restrictions on height, setbacks, rear yard, etc.) and the plexiglass enclosed structure is built on the synagogue roof, the synagogue building will be visibly defaced, the garden will be overshadowed by the tower, and the pleasant aspect of the spot best observed as one walks up 85th Street from the direction of Park Avenue will be diminished. The proposed new community center, Ramaz lower school and condo tower project -- now before the Board of Standards and Appeals -- would adversely affect this place as described above.