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. Equity

    So I say let's go build a mega Church in Mecca!! Or would these "tolerant" Muslims seem to have a problem with that?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:04 am |
    • LearnToRead

      Saudi Arabia is not a democracy like the United States. Apples and oranges brother...

      August 3, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  2. Richie P

    This just further illustrates how these organizations claiming they want to "bridge the gap" between Muslims and the West are disingenuous. There are plenty of places to build this thing away from ground zero. Heck, if they could even wait a couple of years ground zero will no longer be a conspicuous hole in the city reminding everyone so strongly what happened there. Then this kind of thing would get less attention. But no, they refuse to choose a different location and they refuse to let the city and victims' families have a little more time to heal.
    This a chance for the muslims to gloat over their successful mass murder, and now they're taking the opportunity to rip open wounded hearts. It's not unlike their favorite practice of bombing innocent people, and then leaving secondary bombs to kill the emergency responders.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  3. Woody

    Apparently, ALL Christians are sodomites, adulterers and fornicators, unworthy of the Kingdom of God, because Ted Haggard, George Rekers, Jim Bakker, and Jimmy Swaggart are Christians. And I guess all Christians wants our troops to be killed, because Fred Phelps does. And I suppose all Christians are pedophiles, too, since there are those pedophile Catholic priests.

    All Christians are the same if all Muslims are the same.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  4. William

    Let them build it why should we hate and when we start telling other people where to build their church or their centers then they will do it to us. I know how we all feel about this but not all people in their religion are like that I own a lot of people from middle east and are very nice people. jews and christans were not only ones kill on 9/11 muslims were killed that day too because people from their religion were crazy just like there are christans who are crazy too they kill people in the united states it is time for us stop being close minded and make a relationship better understand their religion stop listening to what you hear.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • SamuelRhodes

      well said

      August 3, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  5. Name*Taggert colorado

    They have every right to worship wherever they want!! Any of you idiots ever here of the 1st Ammendment? 99% of all Muslims are very peaceful people! It's that 1% that gives them a bad name stop bad mouthing their faith then look at yours you will find that the basic fundamentals are all the same

    August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • tim

      go with them, traitor

      August 3, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • Name*Taggert colorado

      To Tim aka captian of all idiots!!this is supposed to be a free country why do you have so much hatred for these people? Yes some radicals did something horrible but other radicals have done worse you stupid idiot ever hear of hitler, or Stalin should we condemn Germans and Russians as well for their crimes? No you bigoted idiot

      August 3, 2010 at 11:25 am |
    • Hassan

      well said but how can you deal with scores of ignorant people...common sense is the most uncommon thing found in this part of the world...god bless usa and nobody else...

      August 3, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  6. Equity

    So let's go build a mega Church in Mecca and Medina!! Or would these "tolerant" Muslims seem to have a problem with that??

    August 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  7. Equity

    So let's go build a mega Church in Mecca!! Or would these "tolerant" Muslims seem to have a problem with that?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • tolerant

      Two wrongs don't make it right. Should we abandon our democratic principles until, and unless, Saudi Arabia adheres to them as well? Freedom of religion is part of the U.S. Constitution.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  8. Don

    The comments surrounding this decision is evident of the sentiment of citizens in this country. American citizens are blinded by the Blind lead the blind & we all fall in a ditch. We have been duped from the onslaught of the media & facts encompassing 911. Historical facts does not support any of these comments. Isalm is not @ war America. America show anything in the media & here Americans go advocating hate. Americans (sheep) lead astray. Sad!, yet evident.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • LearnToRead

      I agree. The media has led the American people astray. People need to open their eyes and formulate their own opinions based on FACT, not manipulated and excerpted "news."

      August 3, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  9. whatsthat

    Next question how many of the 911 high jackers were Saudi citizens, answer all but one. Thats bridging the gap for you.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  10. Josh

    In NYC, two blocks away is quite a distance. The opponents make it sound like the mosque will be right next door, when clearly it is not.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • mbal

      Exactly, Josh. This is the problem. People do not know how to use their brains. They only hear what they want to hear and fear what they want to fear. It's sad, really.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  11. Kraig Rasool

    It was a unaminous vote....so can we move ahead? Peace has to start with positive talks....tasks and functions, and with
    the building of a mosque which by the way if some did not know is a place of worship....will furthur that peace. All muslims
    are not terrorists, and Sarah Palin getting involved...well isnt it wolf or bear hunting season? The helicoptors are awaiting your arrival. The Mayor of New York has also agreed with the commision in bringing together peace and an understanding to the lives of Muslims who are god-fearing citizens of New York... Does anyone believe that there of course some Muslims who may have lost loved ones in the trade-center so they too are suffering.. Lets move on people!

    August 3, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  12. OckamzRazor

    Killer bees attacked my family, and now peaceful honeybees want to build a hive near my house. Call me crazy, but we have objections to those bees building near such a traumatic event......

    August 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • muzak

      Okay... you're crazy.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • tim


      August 3, 2010 at 11:02 am |
    • tim


      August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  13. Al

    I don't see this turning out so well...

    This is like putting a 5-story Synagogue across the street from Mecca. That's an "accident" waiting to happen.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • Ruzader

      Not to worry guys – that mosq...I mean "community center" will be filled with so many CIA/FBI people that they'll need a special "prayer" session for them alone ...;-)

      August 3, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  14. In America

    It is going to be a 'conversion center' not a community center.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • tim

      its a terrorist training center

      August 3, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • LearnToRead

      You really think the NYPD and state of New York are not going to be closely monitoring the activities?

      August 3, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  15. mbal

    So much brouhaha over nothing. It's TWO blocks away, for crying out loud. And even if it's closer, so what. Muslims didn't destroy the WTC, fanatical fundamentalists did. Everyone needs to lighten up, put on their rational thinking caps, and stop giving Palin so much media coverage.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:57 am |
    • WJA

      Hey, it wasn't the Presbyterians flying the planes into the World Trade Center, it was Muslims. Granted, extreme fundamentalists, but Muslims. Not saying it's a generalization, but we are idiots to eliminate this basic fact that the terrorist organizations blowing up buses in London, bombing the subway in Madrid, blowing a hole in U.S. Navy ship were all Muslims. We do have a problem with extreme Islamic fundamentists. We can move on but we still have a problem that won't go away by ignoring facts. You're correct that Palin is a little overboard here, but our President doesn't want to admit the real problem and address it appropriately. What can we (Westerners, Americans in particular) do to overcome the perception that these fundamental Islamic extremists have that cause them to want to kill us? The protests that will arise from the construction of this Friendship Center will only fuel the fire and hurt our progress rather than help. The backers of this project need to reconsider what it is they really want to achieve here.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  16. Ruzader

    Muzzies may have won this battle but are losing the war.......

    August 3, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • Robert

      Religious freedom won.

      Americans should cheer the building of this site. We are afforded that religious freedom for a reason.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  17. david

    While I consider myself a very openminded and tolerant person, I have to say they shouldn't build a mosque near ground zero. The towers were destroyed in the name of islam and this would be a huge victory for the terrorists. Unfortunately, the peaceful muslims have to understand what this would mean to new yorkers adn americans. But if it is going to get built, I would want to know the source of the funds used to buy and build this property. It is not cheap to buy and maintain property in NYC. Lets do our due dilegence here so this isn't being funded by terrorists.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • tolerant

      Islam and Muslims are not monolithic. The evil acts of 911 do not represent the Islam of all Muslims. But you are right, this Islamic center should not be built near Ground Zero.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  18. Abdullah

    Allah is also the Christian God.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  19. Rob

    Are you sure you guys ain't Canadian? I find this disgusting that your politicians would let this happen in favour of Islam. This religion is a scourge on this planet and you people are letting it happen in the worst place possible. Canada, where I live, is trying the same crap with multicuturism, and ultimately will pay a terrible price for being so naive and blind. We are not one big happy family and history proves we never will be. Protect your country, your home, your family. They, (Muslim) will never assimilate Western values or belong.

    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
  20. calcman10

    I am curious about the name choice – Cordoba. Could someone explain why they chose to use this title?

    August 3, 2010 at 10:55 am |
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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.