The owner of the Manhattan Islamic Center Park51, better known as the “Ground Zero Mosque” for its proximity to the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks, filed a request with the NYC Buildings Department Monday to demolish the building.
While Sharif El-Gamal, a real estate developer, had planned in the past to renovate the structure to house a $100 million, 13-story prayer and cultural center, it remains unclear whether the razing will be aimed at reconstructing the interfaith center.
El-Gamal’s spokesman told Reuters the plans for the site “will be answered in the future,” and declined comment on whether the center would be relocated elsewhere.
El-Gamal, the CEO of Soho Properties, also submitted a request to raze a nearby building.
The community center was the subject of a fierce national debate in 2010, after critics claimed the location was insensitive to the victims of the 9/11 attacks who were killed by Islamist extremists, and feared the center would become a shrine to the terrorists.
Park51 received the backing of President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and despite the protestations, opened its doors to the public in September 2011.