Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the controversial Islamic center and mosque Park51 at 51 Park Place, is having some issues with his real estate empire. DNAinfo reports that El-Gamal's management company Soho Properties purchased 43 Park Place for $8 million in January, which means he now owns three adjacent properties on the block. However, none of them are doing very well. The cornerstone, Park51, fought a legal battle with ConEd over unpaid rent, and evidently, the center is having trouble keeping its programs running. Park51 opened in September 2011, but the cultural programs have pretty much stopped. Daily prayer services are still held, but the only ongoing activity is a capoeira dance/martial arts class. The website hasn't even been updated since last spring. And how about that glassy, 15-story tower that was supposed to be erect on the site? Construction has yet to begin.
Meanwhile, El-Gamal's tenants are unhappy. Soho Properties offered buyouts to a few commercial tenants on Park Place, but the amount of money was too low to make moving worth their while. The company is also slow to repair building problems, like a broken elevator. Uptown, El-Gamal is tangled in a legal battle over financial problems with two residential buildings he owns in Washington Heights.
· Park51 Developer Buys Next-Door Building for $8 Million [DNAinfo]
· Park51 coverage [Curbed]