August 3rd, 2010
10:14 AM ET

Panel denies landmark status for Islamic center and mosque site near ground zero

From CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff in New York:

New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission denied landmark status Tuesday for a building at the site of a proposed Islamic center and mosque near ground zero.

The commissioners voted unanimously against landmark status for 45-47 Park Place. It and an adjoining building are owned by real estate developer Soho Properties, which intends to build an Islamic center two blocks north of the former site of the World Trade Center.

While the public vote was the focus of much debate about the planned Islamic center and mosque, the commission could not have prevented the developers from building such a community center. The commission, by designating the building a landmark, could only have prevented Soho Properties from demolishing the building or significantly altering its exterior.

There is a prayer site in the building currently, so Muslims are peacefully praying in the building already.

"We will continue going forward with the project. It's a project that will build bridges," said Oz Sultan, spokesman for the Cordoba Initiative, the organization behind the planned center. It says the group is "committed to promoting positive interaction between the Muslim world and the West."

Cordoba opposed landmark status for the five-story building because it would like to build a taller, modern building. "It's not minarets," said Sultan, who described a mock-up of the proposed center as consistent with the latest architecture found in New York City.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city leaders support the Islamic center.

Opponents, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, have argued against a mosque being so close to the scene of the nation's worst terrorist attack.

"Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing," Palin said last month on her Twitter account.

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization that battles anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, is asking that the Islamic center and mosque be built farther away from ground zero in consideration of families who lost loved ones during the September 11, 2001, attacks.

"Building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain - unnecessarily - and that is not right," the organization said in a written statement.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission pointed out prior to its decision that it would have nothing to do with the planned use of the structure.

"The purpose of tomorrow's vote is to decide whether the building has a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of New York City, New York state or the nation," commission spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said Monday.

Most recently the home of a Burlington Coat Factory retailer, 45-47 Park Place was completed in 1858. The Landmarks Commission described it as "a prominent example of the store and loft structures that dominated the dry goods warehouse districts of Lower Manhattan" during the era.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

soundoff (1,819 Responses)
  1. joseph




    August 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  2. NYer

    This decision is a travesty to anyone affected by the 9/11 tragedy. Muslims are free to worship in this country while other religions are not tolerated in Muslim countries. The Muslim community wants a mosque – fine – just not there. The site of the towers is now hallowed ground. To have a Mosque there, honoring Allah, while so many innocents died in the name of Allah is salt on a still potent wound.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  3. Tucker

    Paul are you an idiot??? Our country was founded on Christian beliefs which some of you don't seem to care about. Being an american citizen shoul deither be qualified by birth right or by a much tougher process than memorizing who our politicians are!!! Give me a break people! I don't understand nor belief in Islam, but most of the people here speaking about it and on it's behalf seem to make more sense than the naysayers. The bottom line is that our country was viciosously attacked and we must never forget that and we should respect the people of that area. Take a vote if they want it, give it to them and if they vote no....find another place!!! Democracy.....thats really what this country was founded on, not making the rich political families richer!!!! Open your eyes my fellow countrymen!!! You can email me at ktucker637@gmail.com!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
  4. Jan

    Said Bid Laden to himself while observing new recuits in training, "Build it and they will come."

    August 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  5. Gus

    @Larry, Saudi Arabia does not boast "Land of the Free" as we do, in our national anthem no less. Are we supposed to match the intolerance of the rest of the world? We've been setting the example for religious freedom for over 200 years. It's what the founding of this nation was based on.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Herb (12th Apostile)

    I say we ditch the whole islamic center and mosque idea and replace it with a Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. RAmen.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
    • Jerry

      I second that!

      August 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  7. yup

    congrats to peaceful muslims and non-muslims for being able to have a community center for building bridges. Too bad for the hate seekers.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  8. brownwonda

    so what if you cant build a church or synagogue in iran or saudi arabia? by accepting the mosque, you are taking the more noble and tolerant position than close minded fundamentalists

    August 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  9. Mike

    Only in America. It is great and terrible at the same time. I can't imagine any muslim country allowing any religious group to build a church at the site where that same religious group blew up one of that muslim countries national landmarks. Unreal.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  10. Eric Sotelo


    You are the first person that has spoken any kind of sense on this post. I absolutely abhor the Muslim Extremists, al Quaeda and Hammas and many others like them. I do know some very democratic Muslims that have a Conservative viewpoint like yourself.

    I wish that I had been represented at the time of this vote. This is not the right choice to build a mosque and I believe it's going to lead to a revolution. This is probably what the Muslim Extremist want. If they can tear us apart from within, then they can divide us into segments as a country. This is the first engagement of the rule of war. Divide them so that they can't gather themselves again.

    Thanks again Danish.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  11. Yves

    Victoria, your American citizenship should be taken away and you should be given a Saudi Arabian citizenship for being such a bigot.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  12. Michael from New Jersey

    Who cares about a mosque? Why aren't we rebuilding the Twin Towers? Rebuilding the towers would make a more rational statement against the terrorists than preventing the construction of a mosque a few blocks from the WTC site.

    And by the way, why do some people insist on making this a liberal vs. conservative issue? This country has laws that make it very difficult for governments to prevent the building of a house of worship. Ironically, it was the Christianist right that pushed those laws–but now that the issue involves a mosque instead of a church they are all up in arms. How ignorant!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  13. Nak

    As a Muslim i can understand the frustration and pain that may seem to cause i.e building a mosque near ground zero. but this is important and specially important given so much miss information that presists about islam in general and muslims. especially given how things are now. muslims need to show what islam is all about and bring it out in the fore front where people can see and ask questions not in some basement out of site. lot of time i hear comments why dont muslim condem some terrorist attack well they do but you dont knw about it because they are out of site and dont have a media outlet so its important for muslims to be out there so they can help understand and heal the wounds.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  14. Dan

    Does that mean a strip club serving alcohol a couple blocks away from Mecca is perfectly fine?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  15. Rick

    Can we invite Osama, er uh Obama?

    August 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  16. Vin

    If you ask a lawyer, he'll say is legally right. But this is not a matter legality. The question is: Is the Socially Right? We live in a country with many laws, covering all sorts of matters-great and small. But within this very legal, law-filled culture, there are just as many, if not more, unwritten rules-Social Rules- that govern the do's and don't's. The Muslim culture is a "take no prisoner's mentality". In other words, THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT HOW WE FEEL. To them, that Mosque is like planting a flag after overtaking their enemy's fort. They have figured out how to use our own laws and regulations against us. This is a sad time in America. It is equally pathetic that there are American that are not willing to stand up and oppose this Mosque. Instead, they hide behind our very laws and choose the path of least resistance! When that Mosque goes up, it'll be the beginning of the downfall of this great American idea, culture and people. With it comes Islamic Sharia Laws and it respective culture. It's only a matter time, unless we fight against it.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  17. Quick2Judge

    hmm victoria. let's not be too quick to make choices, before we know solids facts such as with the Andrew Joseph Stack III incident.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  18. Jim

    OK, so they can build the mosque. The problem shouldn't be "are they allowed to build a mosque?" but ask yourself "Why do they want to build a mosque at this location with all the controversy at hand?" The answer is pretty obvious to me, it's a trophy. They say this will build bridges just like Obama said he was going to bring the country together.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  19. lajames

    It is ironic to build a mosque nearby where thousands of innocent people were slaughtered by religious fanatics who devoutly woshipped allah. By allowing the mosque inches away from 9-11 ground zero is a crime against huminaty.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  20. Alistair

    The panel made the right decision.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:58 am |
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