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. 1Pearl



    August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  2. Geo

    In America all faiths are welcomed.

    As I recall during the Gulf war and in the recent war in Iraq all individuals stationed in that country were required to "hide" all/any of signs of the christian faith (crosses etc.) so as not to offend the muslim population. And still they cry from their minarets that we are trying to destroy their religious beliefs. Mmmmm. Exactly who is the great satan?

    August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Mike

    Can we decide Judaism from the oppression and crimes perpetrated by the modern-day Israeli DDF and spies? Can we define Christianity to be the acts of Timothy Mcveigh or Hitler or Milosevich. These rednecks are displaying embarassingly ignorant behavior by connecting freedom of religion of mosques with the violence committed by a countable lunatics.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  4. ProudNYCGal

    The haters, for the most part, seem very unaware of who and what NYC is. Take a taxi, eat city food, ride a bus, walk the streets of NYC and you will quickly learn that this is a city of diversity where Muslims, Christians, and Jews (to name a few) live, pray, and work together. I am no more offended by the call to prayer than I am the lighting of the Xmas tree or the bar mitzvah celebration. My friends, colleagues, and neighbors come from all over the world and I wouldn't have it any other way. Our lives, as New Yorkers and Americans, are enriched by the tapestry of lives we encounter every second we are in NYC. NYC would be a very difficult place to live if I shared the intolerance espoused by so many on this thread.

    Fear is a powerful motivator. It propels people to think and say things born, usually, of ignorance and a desire to never broaden their intellectual horizons. I know what I know and I can't/won't learn anything new.

    I know this because as an African-American, I lived through intolerance of the most basic kind - usually at the hands of Christians who believed, based on limited knowledge, that they somehow were better than me. I know this because our country has a rich history of intolerance in spite of our laws. Intolerance that inevitably rages into bigotry, hatred, and racism.

    How then can I expect the haters to understand the opportunity that exists in building a mosque/community center blocks away from Ground Zero? I can't. How can I expect the haters to understand that this mosque (one of many in NYC), is but one place to celebrate Islam in NYC? I can't. How can I expect the haters to understand that the rich tapestry that makes NYC what it is, was unimagineably torn apart by the events of 9/11? But that after that fateful day, NYers went about restoring our tapestry and that restoration included Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike? I can't.

    I lived on Chambers Street in TriBeCa on 9/11. The back windows of my apartment faced the North Tower ONE BLOCK AWAY. You can figure out the rest. But what you can't do is speak for me and the millions of others who understand the weakness of your arguments; the plain stupidity of your vitriole. Continue your silly, naive, unintelligent rants. We've seen it all before. But the fact remains, you do not lead. You do not understand. You do not speak for me. You do not have my vote. And you definitely DO NOT define who we are as a country. So while you proclaim knowledge about things you hardly understand and clearly will never aspire to learn about, the rest of us will lead by example and continue to make NYC the great city that it is.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • AlexNYC


      August 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • Sarah

      Very well put. My impression is that most of those opposed to the Muslim community center do not protest out of concern for the families of victims as they claim, or out of concern for the well-being of NYC, rather they protest from a deep-seated hatred and misunderstanding of Muslims.

      August 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  5. NYC Survivor

    I was there on 9/11. i watched parents lose children, wives lose husbands and dowtown NYC and we know it changed forever. The pain of that day will be with me forever. I lost my cousin in Cantor Fitzgerald and almost lost my brother. All of this performed by Muslim extremists. That is the fact. Every attempted or successful terrorist attack worldwide is by Muslims, including the attempted Times Square bombing recently. I feel bad for the innocnet and peaceful Muslims that live with us, but it is a fact of life that you all will be dipicted in the terrorsit light until it ends.
    Building a mosque near WTC will only result in some disgruntled American creating an act of vengence against the site and make things worse. DON"T BUILD- DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ONCE!!!

    August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  6. NewYorker10001

    The LOUDEST protests about the mosque are from those who live OUTSIDE of New York. We New Yorkers don't really care one way or the other about it - we rub elbows EVERYDAY with thousands of Muslims in the subway, on the sidewalks, stores etc. Why all of this HYSTERIA? You people live with fear and hate. That's no way to live a life.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  7. Dabrs34

    This is a horrible step for muslims. We understand there isnt anything legally wrong with this, but what are these people thinking?

    By building this they are going to increase their hate level sevenfold. American citezens think what ever they want and this is going to make a lot of people very angry. Me personally? this construction would only make me sad/depressed, but there are a lot of people out there that will receive this with anger/resentment/hate.

    The blending of cultures/races is slow process and the construction of this mosque is basically throwing all our progress away.

    Please muslims, this is not a good idea, think about it.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  8. wowlfie

    I quarantee you this won't stand: it will be blown to smithereens as it is hold burial ground now due to muslims 911 actions. There is at least one Timothy McVeigh out there that will do the job this isn't going to be allowed to stand. Lawsuits will also try to block it. It's ridiculously rude and arrogant by muslims to build on holy ground. They do the same in Israel trying to build on their holy grounds. It's just won't stand. It will be devisive and it's so immature by Muslims to consider this. They will be threatened again and again and will back down or else.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  9. gyrokeith

    So much useless hate..

    August 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  10. Scott

    Building a mosque for the Muslim religion on or anywhere near the blood soaked soil of the WTC is about as heartfelt and tactful as establishing an NRA headquarters in the Columbine High School Cafeteria, or a Timothy McVeigh memorial across the street from the Oklahoma City bombing site. I never believed I was a preson of prejudice but the events of 9/11 have scarred me in a way that is going to take a life time to recover from. Instead of a separation from Church and State, how about a temporary reprieve from the world-wide spread of the Muslin Nation and its infringement on our Christian based nation.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  11. nomoregbldgk

    no, no, we're supposed only let Facist Zionist build next to Jewish Cemetaries and Nazi Groups...the ignorace at this site is mortifying and shows a severe lack of independent thought and vulgar animosity toward others much like the nondesirables suffered under Hitler's regime and you will find the majority of those fommenting this type of hatred are otherwise law abiding citizens much like the Germans were...Michael what are Our options this morning?

    August 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  12. Mike

    Can we outlaw synagogues because of what horrendous crimes that the cruel Israeli forces do? Can we close up churches because of what Timothy Mcveigh or Hitler did? No! These rednecks are displaying embarassingly ignorant behavior by blaming freedom of religion to build churches and mosques and synagogues for the violence that was perpetrated by a few freaks.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  13. Tampa girl

    I understand that it is everyones right to worship "their god" horever to put a mosque next to ground zero to me is a slap in the face. believe in what you believe in, but besides the fact this is ONE NATION UNDER GOD........So build your mosque but build it away from the memories of what that religion brought to our nation! DISASTER

    August 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  14. Mike

    Can we outlaw synagogues because of what horrendous crimes that the cruel Israeli forces does? Can we close up churches because of what Timothy Mcveigh or Hitler did? No! These rednecks are displaying embarassingly ignorant behavior by blaming freedom of religion to build churches and mosques and synagogues for the violence that was perpetrated by a few freaks.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  15. RufusVonDufus

    It is easy to see why I hate muslims so much!

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  16. ItsDavid

    Re: Zach's comment. "2 Blocks north of the WTC" is a lot less than a mile.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  17. spanglish

    It is to desecrate a place where thousands of people where kill because of the fanaticism of the Islam.
    Will the Islam let erect a Synagogue in Medina? Ask them, It is as call for war.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  18. Ray

    "we are a peaceful and tolerant religion"....really??!!! tell that to all the women that have been beaten in the name of Islam, all of the gay people murdered by them or all of the innocents killed in their terrorism. This religion was born in violence and thrives on it.

    August 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  19. gyrokeith

    If we start limiting where people can build churches.. then soon we have special places on the back of the bus for them.....

    August 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
  20. cydonia

    DISGUSTING! This country is deteriorating fast...

    August 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
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About this blog

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.