Within one week of exchanging contracts on a $6.9 million dollar property zoned for educational purposes, Chabad learned that the land had been rezoned for residential usage effectively almost doubling its value.
Rabbi Nochum Shapiro is the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, of Chabad of NSW. For years he had been negotiating to buy the Callaghan Residential College in the Sydney suburb of St Ives in which Rabbi Shapiro and his wife Fruma run the Chabad House of the North Shore. The residential College, previously owned by the Commonwealth Bank, houses 40 bedrooms, a tennis court and swimming pool, a conference centre and several planning room and enormous space suitable for a synagogue and function area. J-Wire understands the bank attempted to get the centre, named after former NSW Premier Nick Greiner’s father-in-law, rezoned but was unsuccessful. The Feldman family took up challenge but only heard of the rezoning almost immediately after their loan application was approved and contracts exchanged.
A beaming Rabbi Shapiro told more than 300 members of the local community who were given a tour of the building that he had plans for a community centre for the entire area and would be inviting other organisations such as Maccabi to utilise its facilities. Sharing the celebration were local councillor Tony Hall and State Member of Parliament, Jonathan O’Dea. Councillor Hall said: “Rabbi, you got in too quickly. I was eyeing this property as a Council Chamber”
Rabbi Shapiro said that “this was a miraculous achievement” but publicly showed his gratitude to businessman Amir Hyster for his help. Hyster said: “This was a story of faith. I received a telephone call from the rabbi about a year ago telling me he had put a small deposit on a property in St Ives for a mere $6 million. I asked him where the money be coming from. He told me he didn’t know. In February we met the bank here and we begged for an extension telling the Commonwealth Bank that G-d will provide. The bank accepted it. We got the loan through before the rezoning. It is just incredible but we managed to get it.”
Hyster said that the building would be a pinnacle of the North Shore community and would bring together Jews and non-Jews.
Rabbi Shapiro paid tribute to the Feldman family. He said: “This could have not have happened without the help and advice and contacts of my parents-in-law Rabbi and Rebbitzen Feldman.”
He said that he knew it would happen two years prior when he was hospitalised two months after opening negotiations to buy the property. He said: “Prior to growth, we go through a difficult time…so I saw the vision. This is a centre not for a group, nor for a club not for a membership…this is a centre for every Jew. It will enable us to touch more Jews. Our agenda is to make the world a better place.”
The Rabbi said the Centre would be available to the entire Sydney Jewish community. “There will be a wide range of programs available to the whole city.”
He said the official opening will take place when the Centre is fitted out and ready to go…but the community will be davening in the building within three weeks.
Rabbi Eli Feldman told J-Wire that the rezoning application was approved by the State Government within the week following the load approval and contract signing.