The Ruth Hyman JCC was granted another 15-day postponement on its foreclosure sale, as board executives reported progress in their efforts to halt the sale of the community center in Deal.
A sheriff’s sale of the property is now scheduled for Dec. 5, said board president Stephen Levy. The JCC managed to postpone prior sheriff sales on Oct. 24 and Nov. 7.
Levy said community stakeholders, including members of Deal’s Syrian Jewish community, have expressed interest in providing emergency funding and revitalizing the center.
“I am pleased to report that there is some forward progress in regard to community stakeholders’ support of the JCC,” Levy told NJJN on Nov. 21. “The beginning of a financial turnaround is starting to happen. There may be more than one group that may be coming in to aid the JCC financially.”
Levy declined to identify individual members of those groups, saying he did not wish to “put them on the spot prematurely.”
But he indicated that one group with strong ties to the Deal Sephardic Network, and others are prominent supporters of the JCC’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center.
Founded in 2007, DSN offers programming for hundreds of youth from preschool through 12th grade. According to its website, the organization’s mission statement boasts a “deep connection to the traditions of the Sephardic community,” which includes the large Syrian-Jewish population that calls Deal home during summers and year-round. DSN and the JCC have partnered on a range of programs in recent years.
The emergence of DSN and the Axelrod supporters offered the JCC a reprieve, according to a statement issued Nov. 21 by the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County.
“After substantive discussions facilitated by the Jewish Federation with the leadership of the JCC, the Deal Sephardic Network, and other community stakeholders, TD Bank (the holder of the mortgage/note) agreed to adjourn the Sheriff's sale originally schedule for this afternoon,” according to the statement. “Concurrently, the JCC in Deal has also deferred their proposed bankruptcy filing.”
The statement was signed by federation board president Joseph Hollander and its executive director, Keith Krivitzky.
The federation has stepped up its role to facilitate discussions between all relevant parties.
“Our intent continues to be to find some solution that allows the facility to serve the broad Jewish population of the county while maintaining the financial integrity of the facility,” the statement continued. “We are continuing the facilitation of these discussions with relevant stakeholders, including doing financial due diligence towards finding a sustainable business model. We will keep all of our constituents and stakeholders informed as to future developments.”
The federation is also helping in the development of a “statement of principles” that will serve as a guideline for ongoing discussions, Krivitzky told NJJN.
“As a neutral party that convenes the community, federation is able to talk to all different segments of the community. We feel we have had very positive conversations, and while we can’t guarantee a successful outcome, we think there is really a potential to come up with a workable solution,” Krivitzky said.
He said the Deal community stakeholders expressed the intention of being “community players.”
“There is a definite interest on part of the Sephardic community in having a viable Jewish Community Center. They are very mindful of coming up with a plan within a community framework,” he told NJJN.
Finding a workable resolution is in the best interest of the entire community, Levy said. “Unfortunately people don’t realize what they have until it’s almost gone, and that’s when they step up their support and become proactive,” he said.
A resolution is also in the best interest of the bank, he added. Set on 12 acres, the JCC is exempt from property taxes due to its nonprofit status.
“If the bank took the building they would immediately have to pay property taxes, which would be close to $200,000 a year,” Levy said.