Sharif El-Gamal now has full control over the site of his upcoming Islamic museum at 49-51 Park Place, The Real Deal has learned. El-Gamal’s Soho Properties, which had a long-term ground lease with Consolidated Edison for the Lower Manhattan site, just closed on the fee interest for $10.7 million.
In a statement to TRD, El-Gamal said today that “we are pleased to have concluded a complex acquisition from Con Edison allowing us to complete the assemblage for our upcoming development at Park Place. This further exemplifies our strength as a buyer of real estate from institutional sellers.” El-Gamal will build a three-story Islamic museum and prayer space at the site, which will be designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel.
In 2009, Soho Properties paid $700,000 to assume control of the ground lease. In 2011, Con-Ed sued the developer for allegedly owing $1.7 million in back rent at the site. Representatives for Soho said today that all lawsuits relating to the site have now been settled.
The site, formerly known as Park 51, was the centerpiece of a fierce debate over religious freedoms in 2010. The development, originally slated to be a $140 million, 15-story project, attracted the ire of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, as well as anti-Islam firebrand Pamela Geller. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, threw his full support behind the plan, which eventually fell through due to lack of financing.
Next door at 45 Park Place, El-Gamal is building a 39-story luxury condominium project.