A New York City real estate developer has filed plans to raze
the "Ground Zero mosque," a structure housing an Islamic
community centre just two blocks from the site of the
September 11, 2001, attacks, city officials said today.
The Islamic centre and prayer space opened in 2011 amid
protests that it could become a shrine to the Islamic
extremists responsible for the deadly attacks on the World
The New York City Department of Buildings said today it was
reviewing an application from the developer to demolish the
four-story building and an adjacent property in lower
Manhattan, possibly to build a new, larger structure.
Sharif El-Gamal of Soho Properties has said he eventually
planned to construct a $100 million, 13-story Islamic
community centre on the site, complete with prayer space,
recreational facilities and interfaith workshops.
But Hank Sheinkopf, spokesman for the developer, would not
confirm the request to demolish the existing buildings was a
step towards constructing the larger project.
He told Reuters that plans for the site's development "will
be answered in the future."
He also would not say where the current Islamic prayer space
would be relocated, should the applications to raze the
building be granted.
The location of the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" spurred
months of protests, with opponents saying it was
disrespectful to the nearly 3,000 people killed when two
airliners hijacked by extremists destroyed two Manhattan
Supporters of the project said it would serve to promote a
better understanding of the Muslim-American community and its
history in New York City.