NPR via The Real Deal reports that Park 51, the planned Islamic Cultural Center that has aroused intense ire from many Lower Manhattanites due to its planned proximity to Ground Zero, continues to make quiet progress.
DeveloperÂ Sharif El-Gamal, CEO of Soho Properties, spoke to NPR about the projectâ€™s progress, which has remained out of the headlines in recent weeks. Gamal, who has invested several million into the project, said that the staff has compiled a presentation for potential investors and even applied for tax-exemption status last November.
Ground has yet to be broken but classes and prayer services are currently behind held in the existing structure. Gamal said that leaders of the project will now refrain from announcing possible imams or names of those involved in order to quell the public uproar; frequent announcements last Fall were often met with opposition from locals. Gamal did say that a new building for the center is still a good five years away from becoming a reality.
Additionally, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam first associated with the center, is not involved any longer.
Park51â€™s plans are rather extensive, as it looks to include a museum, a memorial for September 11th, a meeting place for people of all faiths, a library, an auditorium, a pool, wellness, fitness and sports centers, a culinary school, child care facilities and a restaurant above a ground-floor mosque.
Park51 spokesperson confirms allegations made by Pastor Jones is false on Twitter.
“Official: It is untrue that Park51 is being moved. The project is moving ahead as planned. What is being reported in the media is false.”
5:53PM UPDATE: According to the NYTimes:
“Mr. Jones claimed that Mr. Rauf â€œhas agreed to move the location.â€ He added:
That cannot of course happen overnight, but he has agreed to do itâ€¦. The imam has agreed to move the mosque and we have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday. And on Saturday I will be flying up there to meet with him.”
Confirmation has not been received from Park51 spokespersons or the Imam himself. Story is still developing.
We have just received word that Imam Feisal Abdul Raif has just indicated that he will move the Park51 Community Center away from its initial local at 45-51 Park Place. The location was located 2 blocks from the World Trade Center site.
In light of the nationwide call for Koran burning, Imam Feisal Abdul Raif had asked what it would take to stop the burning, and thus agreed he will be move the planned Islamic community center and mosque.
Pastor Jones made the announcement in front of nationwide media, but has not yet been confirmed by the Imam himself.
UPDATED:Developers of the Ground Zero mosque have recieved a green light from today’s Landmark status vote on 45-51 Park Place, the slated address of the Park51 mosque.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0 against granting landmark status to the former Burlington Coat Factory building, clearing the way for the Cordoba Initiative to develop their Park51 mosque.
The vote was seen as the biggest hurdle for the Cordoba initiative’s plans on building a Muslim community center 600 feet from the World Trade Center site.
However, according to the New York Post, should the vote clear the way for the dubbed “Ground Zero Mosque,” a lawsuit is set to be filed immediately against the landmark vote on behalf of 9/11 first responders.
“We believe the Landmarks Preservation Commission would have allowed politics and mayor’s fervent support for the project to replace the deliberative process,” said Jack Lester, an attorney for 9/11 responder Tim Brown according to the same article.
The next step for the developers would be to solidify the $100 million dollar price tag for construction costs. Imam Feisal Abdul Raif, one of the developers of the mosque is said to solicit funding from the Muslim communities, foundations as well as Muslim nations for funding.
How do you feel about granting the site landmark status? Should this stop the building of the mosque?