Park51 developers sue Burlington Coat Factory over building damage

March 21, 2011 09:04AM

Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal and the former Burlington Coat Factory site at 45 Park Place

The developers of the controversial Park51 Islamic cultural center at the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory near Ground Zero are suing the retailer for $4.5 million for damaging the building’s façade. According to the Daily News, the developers have filed a suit in Manhattan Supreme Court accusing Burlington of hurriedly tearing down two signs that had been bolted to the building after the proposed mosque became “the focus of media attention” in late 2009. The suit claims the retailer didn’t have permission to remove the signs, which “increased the value of the premises and provided rental income from advertising on the signs.” The Burlington store at 45 Park Place closed for good after the site was damaged in the September 11 attacks, and Burlington’s lease on the property was terminated in 2008. But the Park51 backers say the signs remained untouched for years, and only became an issue for Burlington as a result of “animus and hostility” towards their new project. It’s not the only legal tussle for the project’s developers. A Sept. 11 firefighter has sued to block the development from progressing, arguing that the property should have been designated a city landmark. Lawyers for developer Sharif El-Gamal filed a motion to dismiss the case and are expecting a decision within the next four weeks. [NYDN]