The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has denied a request to grant ‘landmark status’ to 45-47 Park Place in Lower Manhattan. Plans to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque at the building will likely proceed.
Members of the audience shouted “Shame on you!” at the commission after the vote.
Opponents of the center include many family members of 9/11 victims who say the mosque is too close to Ground Zero.
The vote was 9-0. The commission decided that the 152-year-old building did not have significant historic value. That means developers can move forward with demolition of the building and the construction of the 13-story religious building.
A part of one of the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center twin towers in the attacks landed in the building.
The mosque and cultural center plans have been polarizing, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in favor of it but many politicians coming out against it.
Republican gubinatorial candidate Rick Lazio is against the plan and attended Tuesday’s hearing. He has called for an investigation into funding sources for the mosque but says it isn’t about religion.
Lazio said, “It’s about this particular mosque called the Cordoba Mosque. It’s about being at Ground Zero. It’s about being spearheaded by an imam who has associated himself with radical Islamic causes.”
Backers of the project are pledging to include a memorial to the victims of the terror attacks as part of an effort to allay opponents’ complaints that the mosque’s location is insensitive.
Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, told The Wall Street Journal that the center’s board will include members of other religions and explore including an interfaith chapel in the building.
Charles Wolf who lost his wife, Katherine, on September 11, 2010 supports the mosque and Islamic cultural center.
Wolf says, ” There has already been a prayer space for years in that building. The only people who are against if are people who don’t live in the neighborhood.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union issued a statement after the vote saying, in part, “We congratulate the Landmarks Preservation Commission for promoting our nation’s core values and not letting bias get in the way of the rule of law.”
Opponents of the plan will continue their fight with lawsuits.