Islamic Center Park51 Cannot Be Evicted, But Must Pay Back Rent
A Manhattan Judge has blocked Con Edison from evicting Park51, the proposed Islamic Center in Lower Manhattan. The center however will need to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent, as well as begin paying an increased rent of $25,875 per month, up from the $2,750 currently paid.
Until both sides settle on an exact figure to how much is owed in back rent, the center will be protected from eviction.
As part owner of the site, Con Edison entered a dispute with the developers earlier this year by claiming that rent for the property had risen and therefore developers owed $1.7 million in back rent dating back to 2008.
The developers led by Sharif El-Gamal refuted the figure and said that the center owed at most $880,000. A consequent lawsuit followed with El-Gamal stating his belief that the electric company might be "bowing to political pressure" that had mounted over the controversial location.
Con Edison answered by saying "We have been among the many parties that have defended the tenant's right to buy the property and develop it."
Since its inception, Park51 has been plagued with troubles, most notably from critics upset over the close proximity of the Islamic Center to ground zero.
Last year, Pastor Terry Jones ignited controversy by threatening to burn a Quran if the center did not change its location. Jones later canceled and was internationally lambasted for his "offending" stunt.
Despite the controversy, Park51 held its first exhibit back in September without any problems. El-Gamal also apologized for failing to include the families of the September 11th attacks in the planning of Park51 from the start.