In a radical change of heart, developer Sharif El-Gamal has said he is exploring commercial options, including condominiums, a hotel and office tower, at the site of Park51, the proposed Islamic community center near the World Trade Center.
“All options are on the table,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “We’re looking at all the different potential uses. We’re sitting on a very valuable piece of real estate.”
A Muslim prayer room is still part of the plan, he insisted, but the Islamic community center may actually be a small portion of the overall project, slated to be more than 120,000 square feet.
“We have 20,000 square feet, at a minimum, that’s going to be given to the community,” he added. But how big it will be “depends on how much money we raise.”
The admission is not a massive surprise given that El-Gamal’s proposal for a mosque and Islamic center has faced further criticism in recent days because of a rent dispute with landlord Consolidated Edison, which owns part of the property. [WSJ]