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. Danish

    Although i am really grateful to US for being so just and kind to muslims, as all the muslims should be. I think muslims should also be more considerate. It's a difficult world we are living in, lots of people have lost their loved ones in that area, and they obviously blame muslims for that. What purpose a mosque is going to fulfill, when neighbours are not satisfied and even feel hurt. In my humble opinion, muslims should first go and convince those residents that they don't want to hurt their feelings, and then if they allow them then muslims can make their mosque. But if hate and uncomfort remains then Islam never asks you to build a mosque at an expense of peace. You should abandon that project and may be build a mosque somewhere else. If possible build something else on that property that may bridge the gap between communities instead of creating more.

    US has allowed you to build because of its just laws, but its upto you now to care about the feelings of Americans as well.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  2. Charles

    Why should Sarah Palin weigh in on this? She's from Alaska. Who does she know who was killed at ground zero on 9/11? Why should anyone take her opinion into consideration when the Mayor of New York City has no problem with it being built? Stop using 9/11 as a strategic political talking point, it's disgusting.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:20 am |
    • Truestory

      I hope next time they attack New York, ur on the recieving end!

      August 3, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  3. for Christ Jesus

    Building the mosque at Ground Zero is a complete mockery of America and all those killed on 911, all the men and women who have died fighting and those currently serving our country and at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Who in their right mind would allow this to happen on American soil? You don't see a Christian church proposing to build there. Christian beliefs are what this country was built on. Wouldn't that make more sense, rather than a religion that hates anyone who isn't Muslim? Shouldn't this be an issue that is voted on by the people of America, not decided by just a few?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:20 am |
    • Charles

      Hey everyone spouting off on here,

      If you're not from the New York area or know someone who was at Ground Zero that day, keep your opinion to yourself. No one here cares about Tom from Arizona's opinion that he thinks this is a gutless decision by NY politicians. You don't live here. It doesn't affect you. No one here cares if you're offended by what we decide to do with lower Manhattan.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  4. CRS

    They have every right to build it. They will build it. They obviously do not care that the family's of 9/11 see it as spitting in the faces of the lives lost on that day. But they are still building it to help unite people? Cordoba is a fitting name. I hope it puts some money into a few American's pockets to build it. Then let's watch it burn.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  5. Dave

    Why not just go ahead and put a muslim in the white house then...oh, my bad they already did.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  6. Nick the Rat

    Muslims build mosques in every place they conquer

    August 3, 2010 at 11:19 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      and christians built churches where they conquered too, all relgions build houses of worship in areas they take over, always have done, always will do.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • Tired

      Just like the Spanish Catholics destroyed the religious structures of Latin America and used their very stones to build their churches.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Richard

    Freedom of religion is a fundamental right, therefore it must be extended to all faiths.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:19 am |
    • TheGLH

      Good post. True, to the point, and undeniable.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:23 am |
    • for Christ Jesus

      But why are they choosing Ground Zero? They obviously have motives other than honoring those killed. Its a complete mockery.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:23 am |
    • LearnToRead

      Learn to read: mosque NEAR ground zero. They are not building anything ON ground zero. If any of you have ever been to Manhattan you would understand the length of a "block."

      August 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Well for starters, and as other people pointed out ....its not ground zero, its not, sorry but its not.
      Secondly, these guys have already been using this building for prayers anyway so wouldnt it make sense they want to convert a building they already own and are using?

      August 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  8. heike boecken

    who is behind these plans?
    America starts to bow down to the Muslims.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  9. Wasilla Billy

    I don't know what to think. Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin haven't told me yet.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  10. MrHanson


    August 3, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  11. George

    Muslims, attention. Are any of you getting the feeling that what you are seeing here is the hatred that mainstream America has for you?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • barbarainPA

      Yes, I am. And sadly, if I were to take off my scarf, I would look JUST LIKE YOU! I am white, of Scots/Irish decent, born in Philadelphia, raised Catholic and converted in 2004. And no....I didn't convert "for my husband" since I wasn't married, nor had I even met him, when I became Muslim.

      I do not travel to places I'm unfamiliar with alone....I have my husband with me, or a friend of mine who is NOT Muslim, because she can sort of "deflect" the resentment as seeing me with her might make people realize I'm NOT some foreigner.

      August 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  12. rayza

    This mosque is an insult to New Yorkers first and a disgrace to the USA second. Whats the point of homeland security if you're gonna let terrorists throw it back in the face of americans by setting up camp at the front door of the greatest tragedy in US history.
    Oh, and the building can be torn down for this mosque? Well, we can def save money by letting them knock it down themselves, since they seem so good at it. Whatever happened to "right" and "wrong"?

    August 3, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • Jaden

      I am a New Yorker. I am not disgusted so speak for yourself.

      August 4, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  13. Sarah

    I wish CNN would moderate the hate on their comments boards a little better. Disgusting.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:17 am |
    • for Christ Jesus

      If you only allow the comments that are in favor, wouldn't that be one sided? It would make it look as if America was all for the Muslims building a mosque at Ground Zero, don't you think? Freedom of Speech is just as important as the Freedom of Religion that is being thrown out here on this blog. Pathetic.

      August 3, 2010 at 11:28 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Freedom of Speech is just as important as the Freedom of Religion that is being thrown out here on this blog'
      ah so you are in favour of the mosque? good to know.

      August 3, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  14. mark


    August 3, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  15. Humanist

    All of this debate on the finer points of different religions is an enormous waste of time and emotion. Quit arguing over what your imaginary friends tell you to do and join us in reality. Think for yourself, demand evidence, and don't be a jerk – that's all the moral guidance you need.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  16. Rob H.

    liberalism at its finest, the destruction from within started a years ago.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  17. Suz

    Everyone's sensitive! Muslims don't want folks drawing pictures of Muhammed, people do it anyway. Jews get upset when Holocaust deniers spout off, but it doesn't stop them. Christians get upset with athiests and vice versa.


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

    @ Every American against the Mosque.

    Please remember what America was founded on, that is Tolerance. To be against the mosque is logically against American values. Any variation of tolerance is essentially anti American. If you want to say tolerance for all except Muslims then we should start rethinking the right to bare arms because gun violence in the US has killed many more American than all the Muslims combined.

    On average 80 Americans are killed every day because of gun violence. That is 29,200 Americans every year. Any attempt to rid the US of guns will result in a catastrophe. So please realize that this is purely hatred and there are bigger problems that need to be addressed.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:16 am |
    • Centares

      I don't think people have a problem with building a mosque. It is the location that is questionable at best. Was there no other location available? and facing the emotions and criticism from around the country, wouldn't it be wiser to try to look for alternate locations, also in NYC?

      August 3, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  19. Phil

    FYI.. Allah IS CERTAINLY NOT the Christian GOD. Get your facts straight buddy....

    August 3, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Really? Whats the difference?

      August 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • Ashraf

      Jesus was calling GOD Allaha. In Aramic. The Jew god called Elah. Sounds familiar?!

      August 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  20. mwmminority

    Nice, Chris! In one statement you showed ignorance of history and religion – Christianity, in particular – you actually know.

    August 3, 2010 at 11:15 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.