The fate of a bid to kill a Chabad expansion in Atlantic Beach remained in limbo this week after village officials on Nov. 14 approved a $1 million bond to finance an eminent domain seizure of a site at 2035 Park Street, adjacent to the Chabad property at 2025 Park Street which is also the target of an eminent domain action.
Whether or not Atlantic Beach will be able to keep the Long Beach-based Chabad of the Beaches out of its community continues to rest with a court, which is weighing arguments over two adjacent vacant properties at the foot of the Atlantic Beach Bridge.
Chabad acquired its site last year to build a community center, said the group’s leader, Rabbi Eli Goodman.
After the Chabad purchase was made public, the village began the process to seize both properties through eminent domain, announcing plans to build a community center and add to an existing tennis center.
Chabad attorney Jeremy Dys has said that his client senses that antisemitism is behind Atlantic Beach’s actions.
“It seems to be pretty clear that as soon as the property was purchased by Rabbi Goodman and his synagogue, it was only then that the village became interested in that property,” Dys said, noting that the 2025 Park Street parcel was vacant for nearly three years before the Chabad bought the land.
Dys, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, believes the village has no comprehensive plans for the site. His belief that antisemitism is in play was deepened when an Atlantic Beach-based Facebook group posted antisemtic remarks and statements attacking Rabbi Goodman.
“You combine that [no planning] with a Facebook page of the village, moderated by one of two of the village members, with all kinds of antisemitism,” Dys said. Moderators in a Facebook group are responsible for accepting or denying posts from members.
Citing antisemitism and arguing that the village has no plan for the site, Dys said he wrote a brief seeking a motion to dismiss.
“All of those motions [are] just sitting in front of the court to make that decision,” he said.
Chabad bought its property, the former home to a CapitalOne bank, in November 2021 for $950,000. Richard Libbey, whose family owns the lot at 2035 Park Street, said that property is worth more than that.
“There’s another piece of property down the block that sold for $1.9 million,” he said.
Atlantic Beach mayor George Pappas did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
Reporting by Hernesto Galdamez of the Nassau Herald.