A city commission on Tuesday denied landmark status to a building near the World Trade Center site, freeing a group to convert the property into an Islamic community center and mosque that has drawn national opposition.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0, saying the 152-year-old building blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks wasn't special or distinctive enough to meet criteria to qualify as a landmark. Commissioners also said that other buildings from the era were better examples of the building's style.
National and New York politicians and the Anti-Defamation League have come out in recent weeks against plans for the mosque, saying it disrespects the memory of Sept. 11 victims. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also chairs the foundation building the Sept. 11 memorial, has defended plans for the mosque.
Bloomberg today joined City Council Chair Christine Quinn and several religious leaders to reiterate his support for the mosque, which has drawn criticism from some Republicans and family members of those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bloomberg said the firefighters and other first responders who died in the attacks had done so to protect religious freedom.
The mosque would be part of an Islamic community center to be operated by a group called the Cordoba Initiative, which says the center will be a space for moderate Muslim voices.
After today's vote, the American Jewish Committee said the Cordoba Islamic Center "has a right to be built." The group also urged the founders of the center to "urgently address concerns about funding and support for terrorism."
But the Anti-Defamation League's national director, Abraham Foxman, said Khan's proposals fail to address the crux of opponents' criticism that erecting the mosque near ground zero is insensitive to 9/11 victims' families.
To try and placate opponents, backers of the project are pledging to include a memorial to the victims of Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the center, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"We've heard and felt their pain, and we're extending ourselves," Daisy Khan, a partner in the building and the wife of the cleric leading the effort, told the WSJ.
On Staten Island, in Sheepshead Bay and at Ground Zero, plans to open new Mosques are being met with fierce opposition, and none more heatedly than the one that could end up at 45-47 Park Place near the site of the 9/11 attacks.
Earlier in the month, Republican hopeful for Governor, Rick Lazio, called on Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, his Democratic opponent, to investigate the group behind the proposed Mosque and Islamic Community center a few blocks from the World Trade Center.
Citing the New York Post, Lazio questioned the sympathies of the center, called the Cordoba House, to known terror groups and also where the center will get its funding, stating that “the people have a right to know if this ‘charity’ is using its resources in a legitimate, legal, and charitable way.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to Lazio’s comments, saying that investigating or vetting religious organizations goes against what the nation stands for.
In May, Community Board 1 approved the Cordoba House.