Oct 26 2014
A NYC Tribeca condo board threatened to stop “Ground Zero Victory mosque” worshipers from renting space in its tony building, sparking charges of discrimination. Park51, the organization behind the controversial Islamic prayer space and community center proposed for Park Place, leased the condo’s 49-51 Warren St. storefront in August.
NY Post (h/t Maria J) But by Sept. 18, before any prayer services were even conducted there, the condo — where apartments sell for $1 million and up and one features a bowling alley — posted a legal notice telling Park51 to get out by month’s end.
Park51 needs the space because its planned mosque near Ground Zero is under construction. Christophe Cornaire, the owner of the Warren Street retail space and a former Cantor Fitzgerald managing director (Cantor Fitzgerald where all of its employees were killed on 9/11 in the Twin Towers), has hired a lawyer to make sure the condo board does not evict the mosque.
“The unit owner is rattling sabers at us,” said Richard Menaker, a lawyer for the condo board. “He’s been accusing the board of misbehaving here . . . [of being] discriminatory.”
Menaker says bigotry has nothing to do with it (Yes, it does, nobody wants Muslims down there)— that the condo is simply holding Cornaire accountable for failing to fully disclose how the space would be used and how many people would use it.
“The key thing is, they’re talking about using the basement space which is not allowed to be used by people,” Menaker said. In the past, hundreds of Muslim worshipers crowded a makeshift prayer space on Park Place for Friday services, many spilling over into the basement of the building.
Cornaire’s lawyer, Adam Leitman Bailey, refused to comment. Cornaire, who lives in France, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald from 2000 to 2010. The firm lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Bailey represented Sharif El-Gamal, the developer behind the “Ground Zero mosque,” in lawsuits against the controversial project. El-Gamal’s grand plan called for a multistory building with a fitness center, swimming pool, auditorium, a restaurant and prayer space.
But the vision was put on hold for years. El-Gamal announced earlier this year he would scale back the scheme and construct a three-story museum with prayer space designed by noted French architect Jean Nouvel.
Next door to the museum, El-Gamal plans to erect a 39-story glass and steel condo tower. His company Soho Properties received $33 million in financing for the project last month.