Sacred Heart’s Impact On The Proposed Jewish Home/JCC Merger

Officials for a struggling Jewish Community Center on Park Avenue and the nearby Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield hope a merger between the two will lead to a state-of-the-art facility in Bridgeport. A merger could derail Sacred Heart University’s interest in the JCC site.

The Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night continued a proposal to change the zoning designation for the JCC site from Residence-A to Residence-C. The plan is supported by Mayor Bill Finch, City Council President Tom McCarthy and North End Councilwomen Michelle Lyons and AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia.

The plans call for the new nursing facility to be built toward the Park Avenue side of the 11-acre property, according to the mayor’s office, and would meet height and setback requirements for the site. Parking would largely be shielded from view under the building. Mayor Bill Finch supports the merger. “We welcome the Jewish Home for the Elderly’s proposal to move their nursing facility to Bridgeport. Their collaboration with the Jewish Community Center would be a win-win proposal for all involved–Bridgeport would gain 750 jobs, a 300-bed nursing facility, and it would allow the JCC to continue to provide its top-flight daycare facility in Fairfield County.”

Part of the deal attraction for Lyons would be Sacred Heart University taking over the Jewish Home site. SHU, located in Fairfield, has had a running battle with North End neighbors over party-happy college students who live in SHU dorms and various rentals located in Bridgeport’s North End. SHU, according to Lyons, also has an interest in purchasing the JCC site. Statement from Lyons:

I am in favor of the Jewish Community Center/Jewish Home due to the alternative that Sacred Heart has had an interest in this piece of parcel. I ask that buffers, lightening, parking, landscape and any other concerns by the surrounding neighbors be addressed within the present and future proposal … that there be continuous interaction with the surrounding neighbors regarding any updates in their plans. I also would like the Planning and Zoning Commission to continue their efforts and analyze each project as it is stated before them. This way we will not be left with zone changes that are not according to the present plan … to state that if this deal dissolves that the zone change will have to be changed back to its original zone.

I attended a meeting regarding the Jewish Community Center on Park Avenue and the Jewish Home on Jefferson Street merging together. They are looking to combine their efforts and tear down the old Jewish Community Center on Park Avenue and build a state of the art Jewish Community Center/Jewish Home. They would like to expand the building a little further back and into the parking lot to the left. To accommodate the parking they would build a parking garage underneath the new building.

It was also mentioned that Sacred Heart was going to purchase the Jewish Community Center. We are pushing to have Sacred Heart buy the Jewish Home behind Sacred Heart University to house the students. Sacred Heart prefers purchasing the present Jewish Home on Jefferson Street because it would accommodate their needs. We are advocating for a stipulation stating that students live on campus if the Jewish Home sells their property to Sacred Heart University.

The CEO of the Jewish Community Center said they want to stay in Bridgeport but if they do not merge with the Jewish Home they cannot stay in business. If this deal does not take place Sacred Heart would end up on Park Avenue instead of Jefferson Street in Fairfield or maybe both.

The CEO of Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Home are looking for a zone change. We also advocated for security in the zone changes to protect the neighborhood. I suggested that they have a meeting with everyone up in the North End to explain their vision of the one center (which already took place last week and the surrounding neighbors were in favor of this project). To my knowledge both entities would continue with all the same services only bigger and newer. It would not be a traffic problem because a good portion of the staff live in Bridgeport and the residents are patients and do not drive.



  1. It is presumptuous to think Zoning can mandate all SHU students live on campus if the Jewish Home/JCC deal is approved. All this will do is give SHU an opportunity to expand their student body beyond existing levels. The university will then grow further necessitating a need for more and more off-campus housing. The student neighborhoods will certainly flow into other nearby areas greatly compounding the rowdy factor to B’port homeowners.

    1. yahooy, you are 100% on the money and it’s just a matter of time.
      Read below, 3 people died in this fire in the Bronx.
      “By the time the predawn fire erupted at 2321 Prospect Ave., the Buildings Department had fielded five complaints of illegally converted apartments there since October 2009.”

    2. The original proposal for that property was a funeral home Spadacino wanted to build there. He ultimately built it in Monroe on Rt111. Fabrizi spearheaded the opposition against the funeral home and won (lost). The SHU people came in and the rest is history. Seems to me I would rather have the quiet of a funeral home compared to the noise from a high-rise dorm.

    3. There are a number of college students living in Black Rock, or they come over here to buy booze. At least they’re more or less contained to two or three saloons on the outskirts of the business district. Independence Day falls on a Monday this year; on Tuesday the sidewalks will be littered with empty liquor bottles, small piles of green glass (from broken Heineken bottles), mounds of cigarette butts and patches of stale vomit.

  2. I would like to amend my previous post. I wrote “On the surface this sounds like a good deal for Bridgeport. Time will tell.”
    I have just learned one of the 2 attorneys involved in this project is the same attorney who was involved in the proposed Medical Building on Eckart St. This attorney went for and received a zone change for a medical building. This project had the blessing of the North End association and neighbors. The zoning commission voted for a zone change and approved the medical building. Lo and behold the medical building fell through and the developer built apartments that now house SHU students.
    This project involving the Jewish Home for the Elderly and the Jewish Community Center is a good project and can be done without a change of Zoning to a Residence C zone. The petitioners can ask for a Special Permit to allow the project to go through.
    By granting a Special Permit if for whatever reason the project does not happen the Zone stays as a Residence A Zone and a repeat of the Eckart St. fiasco cannot happen.
    If you change the Zone to a Residence C and the project for whatever reason does not happen the designation remains a Residence C zone and Apartments or whatever fits in a Residence C zone can be built on the site. Beware North Enders.

  3. It depends on the owner & the occupancy. If a private developer builds a building that houses apartments for SHU students it’s taxable. If it ends up as SHU building this building then it’s not taxable. If it’s a home for the elderly I would assume it’s taxable.


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