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. TexinVA

    Personally, I couldn't care less what they build there. I think all religions are just old archaic myths anyway. But if I were them, I would be worried about extremists, damaging or destroying the mosque out of misplaced patritism (or just plain stupidity). I would also worry about taunts and assaults on people attending the mosque. It wouldn't be right, it would be criminal, but there are elements in America that would certainly do such things.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  2. b

    two blocks is two blocks........we have religious fereedom in the US.......its not like radical muslims are building a mosque at ground zero as a tribute to the destruction and death

    August 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  3. Sam

    What a symbolic kick in the nuts to the US. Let them build it if they must, but have some respect and build it nowhere near the tower site. It would have been a nice little boost to Americans to feel like we still have some control over what happens to us, but no. Moral victories are important too, and cost nothing. We needed this; thanks for nothing New York politcians. Can you imagine the laughing and snickering going on in the Mid East today? This is a huge victory for them. They probably feel as if they've now officially 'won the war'. I guess they have. We are weak.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  4. Edwin

    Rob: you call this liberalism at its finest. I agree. With this move, we can start to repair the hate and harm in the world and maybe help replace it by a little tolerance.

    Also, I am pretty sure most of those who live nearby will be happy with the community center, including the pool. New York gets pretty hot in the summer, and I think they will like having a place to cool down - whether the muslim outreach message appeals to them or not.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  5. S

    FINE, if you can build a mosque on what we consider sacred, then right next door we will build a PORK Slaughter House next to your mosque. We're not being rude, we would just be running business. Squeeeeel Squeeeeeel Squuuuuuueeeeeel. A55holes you could have built somewhere else.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  6. fototherapist

    To me, it's not a question of do Muslims have the right to build a mosque near ground zero. The question is should they? It just seems like a big FU to the victims of 9/11.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  7. rooster

    your point is solid and a good analogy but in Dubai, would they let us put up a Christian Center in that same situation? THey'd have their swords out an behead people.

    i realize we are America and need to not lower ourselves to their inane levels of Government/Religious persecution, but there is a line in the sand (no pun here) and they crossed it on 9/11 big time.

    Do American's really think this was just some renegade Cave Dwelling group. Osama was a BILLIONARE. He could have just sat by the beach in his Yacht or Condo his whole life. Do you think he did not rally and influence entire generations of Muslims.

    THey all Laugh at us now if we build this center. It's principle, nothing else. Ground Zero should be hallowed ground not for just Christians, but anything BUT MUSLIMS until they get their ACT TOGETHER and stop being so hateful in the LARGE PERCENTAGE that they are.

    There is NO PLACE in the MODERN WORLD for a Religion that CALLS SPECIFICIALLY TO KILL SOMEONE if they Mock their God.

    That's a F'n Joke and so is that Religion if it is that insecure and stupid.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • AZ

      you can go back to history and see how it went. Saladin is a respected figure even by non-muslims. The reason is that after the crusades in Jerusalem where tens of thousands of muslims were killed including elders, women and children, Saladin didn't do the same and allowed churches to be there and people to practice their religions ...

      other than this, I would appreciate it if you can get me the verse in Quran where it talks about killing someone who mocks Allah. here's a verse from Quran:

      "Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did."

      August 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
    • Peacemaker

      You mention Dubai, you can not compare other nations to ours. The United States is unique in our Freedoms. Your point that Dubai would not allow a Christian center, makes no sense. Since Dubai is not America! Nor do they live by our values.

      August 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  8. LiberalNN

    Horray for this Islamic "community center" which will give tired terrorists a place to freshen up after a long flight in from the Middle East.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  9. Solomon David

    These islamos don't understand our values of freedom and tolerance don't let NYC go down like that people,now they even murdered so many of our fellow countrymen in Africa who were just watching the world cup!!This scurge has to be stopped in its tracks.Time to stand up and show them,NO MORE!!

    August 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  10. Cruciblethorn

    Here we go.....ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION. They are a cult of fanatics bent on world domination through terror. Read the freakin Quran and learn something morons. Muslims that have been redeemed and saved into Christianity are vocalizing the true evil of Islam but you illiberals and blind sheep are ignoring the shouts for a call to arms. Obama is a muslim......Bush, most corporations and the Muslims are in bed together.....but eventually Islam will turn on their sympathetic infidels and wipe them off the face of the earth. This mosque is a victory landmark for terror. We must block it and if necessary destroy it to preserve American freedom and the memories of those who died on 9/11. Islam is violent, radical, extreme, and full of bloodlust. Let the Final Crusade begin.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  11. Muslim guy

    This is why I love New York City. This is where real freedom is, not Arizona. This is where people of all colors, faiths, and sizes come and live together and what's called the melting pot. You will see a Muslim Halal store next to a Jewish temple, or a Hindu store. No where else can this happen peacefully. This vote proved that NYC is different than the rest of the country, especially the right-winger hillbillies.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cruciblethorn

      Versus you the pedophile following, DevilAllah worshipping, head chopping hypocrite desert scab.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  12. John

    Today, like September 11th and the days afterward, is a day we should demonstrate compassion. We need to accept, not just tolerate those that believe differently differently than we do. Remember that this country was founded on the aspect of practising religious freedom.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  13. elbow

    The logic for NOT allowing a mosque near ground zero could be used elsewhere; no Catholic churches near grade schools.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
  14. Mohammad

    I love Christians, Jews, Hindus, and even non believers, we are all brothers in humanity. All will be welcomed in the new center. Thank you NY for making the right call.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  15. maple leafs fan

    i dont even know what to say to this. i am canadian and i don't hate muslims, though i don't understand them at all, but this seems very ignorant to want to have a mosque in that certain location, how big is new york anyways, they are causing problems that they don't need. or maybe they want to cause problems and hurt....

    August 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Seperatation of races, religions is generally always solely a republican instinct but what is surprising is the stance of anti defamation league that is supposed to work for a good cause of protecting minority rights of jews. One would think they will be able to relate to other minorities who are being rail roaded by conservatives and republican for crimes of few. I beleive all those speak against the mosque are bigots and if given the appropriate cover to show their racist colors, they will take it out on other minorities as well.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  17. Ridiculous Idea

    Let 'em have it. Then we'll run an airplane into it and plant American flags all around the premises.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  18. AlexNYC

    There is so much hatred and apparently emotions are running hot without any reasoning. Yes, as a New Yorker and American citizen who works downtown, they should build it. As the most diversified city in America, we are all about freedom and tolerance. Please keep in mind more than 300 Muslims died on 9/11, so they don’t count? And for the geographically challenged, the proposed site is not at ground zero….get your facts straight. As a FYI – I take a Marxist view on religion

    August 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  19. wakeup

    "In God we trust" is what this country was founded upon... don't believe me.. look at your dollar bill. We are all immigrants that make this country what it is. But.. we must not forget what is was founded upon. If we do, God's gonna take away from us, because we choose to turn away from HIM.
    We are to trusfing, too scared to offend others, always trying to be the nice guys. We are basically just doormats. Equal rights for everyone..yeah right... pretty soon, WE will not have any right...
    God teaches us to love, but we must respect our God as well. That is in our commandments. You should have no other God besides me. We can choose to love others and respect others, but we must stand our ground when the very structure of our foundation is going to crumple down.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  20. Mike D

    Interesting choice of name for the center. Cordoba was captured by Muslims in war from the Romans and turned into "the" cultural center for Muslims. As time passed civil wars and infighting ended Cordoba's rule virtually destroying the city and culture. It was eventually recaptured in the Spanish reconquista. It is no more with only a few columns remaining as a reminder.

    August 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.