Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is calling for the relocation of the controversial Park51 mosque.
Silver, who agrees that the Constitution protects the rights of the developers who want to build the community center and mosque, also feels they should be as interested in compassion for 9/11 victim families
“They should find a suitable place that won’t cause the same controversy,” Silver stated at a press conference with Gov. Paterson.
The Governor also offered his help in relocating the Park51 development. Discussions between the developers and the Governor have not materialized.
Silver’s call for reconsideration came right before the Governor was set to speak with Archbishop Timothy Dolan to discuss Park51 and how to facilitate moving the controversial development.
Park51 and the Cordoba Initiative have stated clearly their resolve in staying at 45-51 Park Place, and show no signs of relocating their community center. Daisy Kahn, one of the founders and wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, had stated that the relocation matter was “a bigger fight.”
The controversy surrounding the development of a Muslim center near Ground Zero has only solidified focus towards its existence, according to the developers.
In an article published by the Washington Post, Daisy Kahn, one of the founders of the development and wife of Imam Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has vowed to not back down on the building and has blamed Republicans for the uproar caused by the development.
“We have too important a moment to back down. We have to take our opponents and transform them. What gives me strength [is] we are in a history-making moment. Our ideals must prevail.”
She also noted that the organizers will be reaching out to 9/11 families. Our own site, BatteryParkCity.com has been contacted by Park51 to organize community outreach in our area towards alleviating worries our community might have towards the building of the community center and mosque in our neighborhood.
Also according to the article, Kahn has claimed that there hasn’t been overwhelming interest in the development outside the country, but she’s hoping that will change with her husbands international tour.
He was 14 at the time of the September 11th attacks, probably unaware that merely 5 years later he would be responsible for finding one of the most controversial developments in the nation.
According to reports published in the New York Daily News today, Francisco Patino was working for developer Sharif El-Gamal to help research and find an appropriate location for the Park51 development.
“I told him to go out and find available buildings for the project, and he did. He’s a phenomenal kid,” Gamal is quoted in the same article,Â “We were looking at buildings all over the area. I liked a lot of them but this was the one we ended up on. It was just meant to be.”
Patino, 23, currently works at Chase Manhattan Bank and has gained notoriety as a contestant on “American Inventor” a popular TV show that aired in 2006.
The article also mentions, “Patino was barely a man in 2006 and had only come to this country when he was 12. No young newcomer could be expected to understand the sensitivities beneath the contradictions.”
After clearing a vote against landmark status for 45-47 Park Place, another hurdle has emerged concerning the development of what has been dubbed “The Ground Zero Mosque” or the Park51 Mosque.
The mosque which is slated to be located at 45-51 Park Place, built on two parcels of land, is only half owned by the developers spearheading the project according to the NY Post which first broke the report over the weekend. The building at 45-47 Park Place, which had been undergoing landmark status hearings is owned by Soho Properties, the developers of Park51 — whilst the building at 49-51 Park Place is not. Park51 is named after the address 51 Park Place, the address in scrutiny.
More surprisingly, the owner of the other parcel of land is actually Con Edison. This information took even Community Board 1 proponents by surprise who had not heard of this revelation through its own hearings.
According to the article, “Sharif El-Gamal, the head of Soho Properties, first came forward in 2006 seeking to buy the empty building at 45-47 Park Place, said Melvin Pomerantz, whose family owned the property.
Pomerantz said El-Gamal eventually raised $4.8 million cash for 45-47 Park Place. El- Gamal paid an extra $700,000 to take over the lease with Con Ed for the building next door. The lease expires in 2071.”
The discrepancy emerged because the two buildings were connected years ago, as it housed a former Burlington Coat Factory and was generally assumed ownership for that entire parcel was under one ownership, without the Community Board #1’s knowledge that Soho Properties would be developing half of the site under paying a $33K a month lease to Con Ed.
Con Ed is appraising the property for a potential sale, “The utility is now doing an appraisal to determine the property value, and it would be up to El-Gamal to decide whether to accept the price, the utility said. The price is estimated at $10 million to $20 million.
â€œWe are following our legal obligations under the lease. We will not allow other considerations to enter into this transaction,â€ Con Ed said.
The sale proposal will go to the Public Service Commission, where it could possibly face a vote by a five-member board controlled by Gov. Paterson,” according to the same article.
Do you think that this will be a significant hurdle for the Park51 Mosque?
The developer of the Park 51 mosque and community center, formerly known as the Cordoba Initiative — has put his ambitions on the record with the Wall Street Journal for the impending World Trade Center mosque to be a significant architectural structure in New York City.
“I want to build something that when people come to New Yorkâ€¦that Park51 is on that red tour bus as something that they have to see because it’s one of the most significant buildings in New York City,” says El-Gamal in the Wall Street Journal.
El-Gamal’s architectural team could be a great indication of his potential success, but has not named a team just yet. However, he has noted that two buildings he considers great examples of the architectural direction of the mosque include the steely Cooper Union building in Astor place and the glass behemoth 7 World Trade Center building.
According to the same article it was noted that the design would evoke modernity and would not necessarily adopt a traditional mosque style, “It’s definitely going to be an expression of New York and of America,” Mr. El-Gamal said in an interview Friday, a few days after his project, now dubbed Park51, came under fire at a raucous Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing.”
The slated location for the Park51 mosque has already been converted into a makeshift mosque with nearly 400 Muslims who journey to the location at 45-51 Park Place for Friday prayer service.
As the rain poured outside, people poured inside the New York City Landmarks Commission public hearing. Despite the inclement weather nearly 100 people were in attendance at the hearing in Hunter College. A dozen or so individuals were able to take the floor including public opponent and New York State Governor hopeful Rick Lazio — who offered a different strategy to halt the Mosque’s construction by claiming the building at Park Place was worthy of landmark recognition. Even citing debris that had fallen on the building during the 9/11 attacks.
“I urge the commission to grant landmark status to 45 Park Place, [to] take into account important historical facts.”
Gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino was also represented by his lieuenant governor Tom Ognibene who agreed with Lazio stating the building of the mosque would beÂ “an affront to the families that have died.”
Linda Rivera, a family member of a 9/11 victim suggested, “the building should be a landmark building. It should not be a mosque.”
Brooklyn resident, Barbara Sommer decried the sentiments and questioned “How can we allow something to eradicate that memory — the pain and suffering.”
While nearly a dozen others voiced their opinions at the hearing, a religious turf war had been established when Bill Keller of LivePrayer.comÂ (of no relation to the New York Times editor) had sent out a press release stating he would bid on creating a Christian center within the heart of Ground Zero. As of yesterday, his site had been actively seeking donations to fund the construction and is slated to start a satellite prayer center at the Embassy Suites hotel in the northern section of our neighborhood every Sunday starting September 5th until December 26th — until a final home has been found for the Christian center. (I wonder if the group knows that Goldman Sachs is planning on closing the hotel down soon?)
It seems our neighborhood has become a religious battle ground overnight. Are we OK with this?
In the most contentious and controversial real estate construction plan in recent memory, today a meeting will be held to determine the fate of the Cordoba House Mosque on 45-47 Park Place.
Although most New York voters are against the building of the mosque slated for construction only 600 feet from the World Trade Center site based on a Quinnipiac poll,
Although a Quinnipiac Poll had suggested that nearly half of all New York voters are opposed to the construction of the Cordoba House — politicians in New York have been split. Gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio called upon current Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for a formal investigation into Cordoba’s funding, but yesterday Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a public response to Lazio’s investigation requests and any opponents of the mosque as being “un-American” and as going “against what the nation stands for.”
The last hurdle for mosque proponent has hinged on approval from the New York City Landmarks commission who’s hearing will be held today and is open to the public.
For those who are interested in attending, the public hearing for 45-47 Park Place application will take place at:
681 Park Avenue
Hunter College Assembly Hall
Entrance on East 69th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington
(Please bring a picture ID for entrance into the building)
The hearing will start at 2:00pm and ends at 5:00pm.
We’ll update the site when the ruling comes down from the hearing today.