Trump's Offer to Buy Site of Proposed Mosque Denied

By Hasani Gittens
|  Saturday, Sep 11, 2010  |  Updated 10:16 AM EDT
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Donald Trump, the great peacemaker or mega-publicity hound?

No stranger to a big gamble and chasing down a little free press, the Donald has offered to buy out the main owner of the site of the proposed Islamic Center that is being developed two blocks from Ground Zero.

The offer, however, fell flat.

Wolodymyr Starosolsky, a lawyer for the investor in the real estate partnership that controls the site, says Trump's offer is "just a cheap attempt to get publicity and get in the limelight."

In a letter to Park51 investor Hisham Elzanaty, an Egyptian-born businessman who says he provided a majority of the financing for the two buildings where the center would be built, Trump offered to pay 25 percent more than what Elzanaty paid for the site at 45-47 Park Place.

Trump writes that his reasons to buy are not business but patriotic.

"I am making this offer as a resident of New York and a citizen of the United States, not because I think the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory, and highly divisive situation that is destined, in my opinion, to only get worse," wrote Trump.

He states that as part of the offer the developers would have to agree that they would not build another mosque any closer than five blocks from the World Trade Center site.

Trump's offer is "all cash" with an "immediate closing."

It's unclear how much control Elzanaty has over the property, which is owned by an eight-member investment group led by Soho Properties.

On Wednesday, Elzanty  told The Associated Press that he has always viewed the project primarily as an investment opportunity, and would sell some of the site if the price is right.

And the imam slated to lead the spiritual component of the center told CNN that if he had realized how some Americans would react to the location, he would have picked some other spot.

"If I knew this would happen, if it would cause this kind of pain, I wouldn't have done it," Feisal Abdul Rauf said.

Meanwhile, a Florida pastor who had said that he would burn Qurans on 9/11 to protest the mosque now says that he will not set fire to copies of the holy book. Pastor Terry Jones said he canceled his plans because Imam Rauf agreed to move the mosque -- but that was completely wrong.

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