Islamic community center developer seeks federal funding
November 22nd, 2010
02:40 PM ET

Islamic community center developer seeks federal funding

Editor's Note: By CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff in New York.

The developer behind the controversial Islamic community center and mosque planned for Lower Manhattan has requested federal funding through the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to support the project known as Park51.

The funding would come from money the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated to help rebuild the neighborhood after the 9/11 attacks.  "Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant," said Sharif El-Gamal, CEO of SOHO Properties, the developer behind the Islamic center.

In a statement, El-Gamal said the money would "in part fund social service programs such as domestic violence programs, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services."

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation received more than 265 applications seeking more than $175 million for community and cultural programs, though the LMDC has only $17 million of federal funding to allocate.

"We are now turning to the challenging but important task of sorting through the applications to identify those that address long-standing community and cultural needs," said Avi Schick, chairman of LMDC.

The grants will range from $100,000 to $1 million, according to Julie Menin, chair of Community Board 1 and a member of the LMDC board. Among the criteria used to judge applications, Menin said, are financial viability, job creation, revitalizing the community and a track record of service in Lower Manhattan.

"We have funded museums, public schools, programs to help small businesses hurt after 9/11," said Menin. An online report said Park51 had requested $5 million, but neither the developer nor LMDC board members would confirm that amount.

The LMDC plans to decide how to allocate the $17 million "towards the end of the first quarter of next year," said Menin.

Park51 has yet to raise significant funds for the community center located two blocks north of Ground Zero, a project that could cost $100-million.

"Park51 has not launched a formal fundraising program and is currently in the process of expanding its Board of Directors to plan, manage and oversee such efforts," said El-Gamal, adding that the project has not yet applied for federal tax-exempt status, but plans to do so "in the coming weeks."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

soundoff (82 Responses)
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    March 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  2. Yin and Yang

    Is also a joke when politicians and policy maker continue to define the current afghan government as moderate when they tried execute a man (Abdul Rahman) who converted to christianity in 2006. And now they consider Pakistan U.S. allies in the war of terror moderate when they tried to execute or incarcerate a woman for condemning Islam. Moderate Islam – A joke

    November 29, 2010 at 8:45 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.