Congregation Chevra Thilim, which describes itself as “San Francisco’s oldest Orthodox congregation,” has announced that construction will begin tomorrow on a $1.6 million project to renovate and upgrade its large social hall building. The project, expected to be mostly completed by next September in time for Rosh Hashanah, will include a new floor and ceiling, a new expanded kitchen, new offices, three new classrooms and new bathroom facilities, according to congregation president David Kimel. The money to fund this work has already been raised, Kimel said.
The project is the first part of what was originally announced during Yom Kippur services in September, 2009, as a $4.5 million, two-stage synagogue renovation. The estimated cost of the social hall building renovation, according to that original 2009 announcement by congregation vice president Jay Bakaler, was $2 million. Earlier that month, Rebbetzin Chani Zarchi had said the congregation hoped to begin work perhaps as early as March of 2010 to take advantage of a 30 percent decline in construction costs attributable to the general economic downturn.
The other stage of the congregation’s plan calls for renovation and partial reconfiguration of Chevra Thilim’s large sanctuary, work which in 2009 was estimated to cost $2.5 million. Kimel today said there is currently no start date scheduled for that phase of the project. He said plans to move a synagogue wall and add a costly enclosed entrance lobby and large bay windows will probably be dropped. The sanctuary renovation was originally announced as the first stage of the project, but the sequence has since been reversed.
(Disclosure: I live near Congregation Chevra Thilim and often attend religious services and other events there.)