Mosque developer vows to stay the course on plans for Downtown site

Sharif El-Gamal and a rendering of Park51

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Developer Sharif El-Gamal has no plans to back down from his most controversial project yet, Park51, the mosque and Islamic community center planned near Ground Zero. El-Gamal, 37, owns upward of 400,000 square feet of real estate in New York City, and considers the brouhaha surrounding Park51, “a big distraction,” he told the Observer. His commitment to building an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan seems to grow in direct proportion to the level of controversy fomented by his opponents, the Observer said. “I don’t give up,” El-Gamal said. “I don’t quit. It’s just not in my DNA.” Crucial to the 13-story project, which is to include a mosque, a swimming pool, a 9/11 Memorial And A Basketball Court, is financing, somewhere around $100 million, but El-Gamal said he is not worried about where the funding will come from, and the fact that he doesn’t fully own the entire site isn’t a problem, either, he said. When asked if he would consider relocating the mosque, even if offered a hefty sum to do so, he replied: “It’s not about money… But everything does have a price. But it’s not about money.” [NYO]