Mosque near Ground Zero: Frequently asked questions
1. Where is it?
The project is slated for two adjacent buildings at 45-51 Park Place, between West Broadway and Church Street, two blocks north of Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.
2. What was previously in the buildings?
One of the buildings, at 45-47 Park Place, used to house a Burlington Coat Factory, which closed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (The top of the building was damaged by the landing gear from one of the planes used in the attacks.) The building is five stories tall and was built in 1857-58 in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style, according to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The other building, 49-51 Park Place, is a former substation owned by Con Edison. The building is in the process of being sold to the project's developer, Sharif el-Gamal, who now rents it on a long-term lease. The sale may have to be approved by the state Public Service Commission. Both Con Edison and the Public Service Commission are reviewing their records on the matter, and no timeline is set. Read more about the ownership issue here.
Although both buildings are mostly vacant, Muslim prayer services have been taking place in the 45-47 Park Place building since Gamal began leasing the property in 2009.
3. Is it actually a mosque, or is it a cultural center?
The plan is for a cultural center that would contain a mosque.
The project's organizers have said that the center would be modeled on Manhattan's 92nd Street Y, a community center open to all New Yorkers. The center would house meeting rooms, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a basketball court, a restaurant and culinary school, a library, a 500-seat auditorium, a mosque and a Sept. 11 memorial and reflection space. The organizers have estimated that the mosque could attract as many as 2,000 worshipers on Fridays.