Developer behind ‘ground zero mosque’ replaces plans with museum
The developer behind the controversial Islamic community center two blocks from the World Trade Center announced plans for the property have been scrapped in favor of a smaller museum dedicated to the Muslim faith.
The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that developer Sharif El-Gamal planned to scale back his plans for a 15-story community center in favor of a three-story structure that would display art exhibitions and host academic and cultural events.
“New York’s arts and cultural institutions have always been a great inspiration to me and I consider this opportunity to create a museum to be a true privilege,” El-Gamal said in a statement through a spokesman.
El-Gamal’s previous plans for the $100 million center drew significant criticism from conservative groups outraged that any establishment promoting the Muslim faith would be near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Outcry reached fever pitch against what opponents came to call the “ground zero mosque” in 2010, when hundreds of protestors gathered near the building on Park Place and Church Avenue to rally against the project.
El-Gamal released no details about either a budget or a timeline for the museum’s construction.
In April, the New York City Department of Buildings said it was reviewing an application from the developer to demolish the existing four-story building and an adjacent property.
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