Taking a gamble on the Park51 mosque

Related’s Stephen Ross (left), the proposed mosque site on Park Place and Vornado’s Steven Roth

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An online sports wagering site is taking actual bets on which individual or group will be next to offer to purchase the planned Lower Manhattan site of the controversial Park51 mosque and Islamic community center, following the sound rejection of Donald Trump’s bid last week. The site, YouWager.com, has set limits at $10,000, and the odds are currently +200 on Stephen Ross’ the Related Companies, +400 on Vornado Realty Trust, and +350 on billionaire Russian tycoon and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The odds are +100 on Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has repeatedly professed his support for the mosque at its current location. But Bloomberg is largely alone in his views. A new nationwide Quinnipiac University poll released today reveals that 63 percent of American voters believe it is wrong for developer Soho Properties to build a mosque at the current site near Ground Zero, even though 70 percent believe the developer has the right to do so. No sub-group said it was “appropriate” to build a mosque there. In a letter to a major investor in the Park51 project last week, which he also released to the media, Trump offered to buy the site at a 25 percent premium in order to “end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation.” Through his attorney, the investor, Hisham Elzanaty, called Trump’s letter a “cheap attempt to get publicity and get in the limelight.” TRD

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