Down in the Financial District, Sharif El-Gamal is trying to cover all his real estate bases. He purchased 43 Park Place, a commercial building adjacent to the two existing properties on the block that he already runs. Now, The Real Deal reports, the Brooklyn-born Muslim developer is also considering building condos on the now-larger Park51 site, which currently serves as a fairly inactive Islamic cultural center and place for prayer. At one point, a glassy tower was supposed to rise above the site to house the mosque and community facility, but it's nowhere to be found. Though the Times said that El-Gamal's lawyer commented that there are no specific plans for the new purchase, according to TRD, this week El-Gamal has reached out to brokers and other experts to assess the feasibility, costs, and potential benefits of building condominiums alongside (or above) the religious space in the combined parcels.
El-Gamal has faced no shortage of real estate woes, ranging from a battle over rent with landlord ConEd to complaints from his commercial tenants on the site to problems with some holdings he has in Washington Heights. Above all, the construction of Park51 has been mired in controversy from the beginning, with many detractors saying back in 2010 that building an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero was insensitive. With that kind of baggage, how many residents would really want to pack their bags and move in? "I can't imagine anyone getting comfortable enough" with the project and its weighty past, one exec told TRD.
· Park51 Developer Buys Another Building, Is Still Controversial [Curbed]
· Developer of Downtown Mosque Bought a Neighboring Property [NYT]
· Sharif El-Gamal coverage [Curbed]
· Park51 coverage [Curbed]