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.
What is your opinion of Park51 at this point?