Remember when news broke of plans to build a giant mega-mosque precariously close to “Ground Zero” in Manhattan where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood? The very idea drew understandable howls of protest from families of 9/11 victims, politicians, media pundits and Americans everywhere. Commemorating the worst terrorist attack in American history with a giant mosque, which local resistance organizers began calling the “Victory Mosque” was viewed as distasteful at best a blatant slap in the face at worst.
The mosque was the idea of Sharif El-Gamal, a Muslim real estate developer and founder of New York-based Soho Properties. Not one to die hard (no pun intended), El-Gamal is back with a plan B and it might be worse than plan A.
Instead of a 16-story mega-mosque, El-Gamel is building a 43-story condo tower with a three-story “Islamic museum and sanctuary.”
Per the New York Times: “The sales gallery for 45 Park Place, a 43-story condominium that will soon rise three blocks from the World Trade Center, is not unlike the galleries for other luxury condos in New York. Oversize photographs showcase the spectacular views that come with living in a 665-foot tower. The mock kitchen and bathroom offer a glimpse of the refined finishes one would expect in a building with a $41 million duplex penthouse.
But unlike other New York City condos, this one is something of a consolation prize for the developer, and one that is opening in a cooling luxury market. The tower replaces the developer’s 2010 plan to build a 15-story Islamic mosque and cultural center on this site, an idea that erupted into a national controversy and cable news network bonanza.”
“We are still building an Islamic museum and sanctuary,” says the developer behind the Ground Zero Mosque scheme, Sharif El-Gamal.
For his opponents, even a small center is too much. An Islamic museum “is just as much of an insult,” Pamela Geller, a blogger and one of the center’s most vocal opponents, wrote in an email. “It will be like having a museum touting the glories of the Japanese Empire at Pearl Harbor.”
What do you think folks? Perhaps the cooling luxury real estate market will have the final say on whether or not this was a good idea.
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Willburn]