Tag Archives: soho properties

park 51 rendering

Park 51 Continues to Make Progress

park 51 rendering
Architectural rendering of Park51's planned futuristic design

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.

Developer Sharif El-Gamal, CEO of Soho Properties, spoke to NPR about the project’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.

Park51’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.

What is your opinion of Park51 at this point?

Ground Zero Mosque

Another Hurdle for Park51 Mosque: Con Edison

Ground Zero Mosque
The planned location of the Ground Zero Mosque.

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.

“We are following our legal obligations under the lease. We will not allow other considerations to enter into this transaction,” 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?