Holocaust and Jewish education center in Bradenton might have to look for a new home

Jewish Center In Limbo

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) -The future of one family’s calling and passion is now in question. They say they’ve poured their lives into creating a Jewish cultural center. But now, it might have to find a new home.

The lease for the Al Katz Center for Holocaust Survivors and Jewish Education ends October 31st. But the founders want to stay.

“It’s all up in the air,” said Lawrence Newman, co-founder and president of the Al Katz Center. “There’s absolutely no reason to force us to leave at this point and time, especially during the pandemic."

About five years ago, Newman and his wife Beverly rented out a space at Cortez Commons, located at the 5700 block of Cortez Road West in Bradenton. This was to honor her late father Al Katz who is a Holocaust survivor who died in 2010. It’s currently packed with Jewish artifacts, including a Torah that’s 150 years old. The center also serves as a place of learning more about the Jewish faith.

As their lease comes up, their new landlord appears to have new ideas for the space.

“We have requested an extension, first we requested for a new lease for 2021 and we were told by the new owners of Clover Investment Properties that we could not have a new lease,” said Beverly Newman.

Beverly is immunocompromised and can’t get out of her home during this pandemic. ABC7 spoke to Beverly through zoom out of safety. In the meantime, she asked her landlord to extend the lease until June of next year giving them time to move out safely.

“It’s convenient,” she said.

Early this year, according to public records, Clover Investment Properties of Tampa bought the shopping plaza. Back in December before the sale closed, the couple say they were told that rent will go up 20 percent, bringing their annual rent from $15,000 to almost $18,000.

To get more clarity on the situation, we reached out to Clover Investment Properties by phone and email, and have not received a response yet.

“It’s the time to work cooperative, it’s time to be reasonable,” said Lawrence.

With just a few days left and nowhere else to turn, all they could do is just pray.

“I definitely believe in prayers, I know that God makes miracles. We always told our grandchildren, God is out there making miracles everyday,” said Beverly.

According to other published reports, the landlord of Cortez Commons is working on capital investments. They were told the market price for that location is $40,000.

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