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Carter's View

The financial district committee of Community Board 1 last night unanimously approved plans for a 13-story building that will be known as the Cordoba Initiative is planned for the former Burlington Coat Factory building at 45 Park Place near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.

An article in today's New York Daily News by Joe Jackson and Bill Hutchinson said that Ro Sheffe, the committee's chairperson, said "I think it will be a wonderful asset to the community."

The proposed building will include a mosque, a 500-seat performing arts venue, a swimming pool and a basketball court, the article said.

During the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center September 11, 2001 a landing-gear assembly from one of the attacking planes crashed into the roof of the five-story building on the site.

The planned development is a project of the American Society for Muslim Advancement of which Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf is the founder and Daisy Khan, his wife, is executive director.

Ms. Khan, the article stated, said that donations from prestigious groups such as the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund would pay for the construction, acing that "once built 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims are expected to pry at the mosque every Friday," she said.

The organization has another mosque, Masjid al-Farrah, at 245 West Broadway where Iman Feisal is the spiritual leader, according a December 17, 2009 article by Chelsea Schilling of WorldNetDaily.

45 Park Place was purchased last July by Soho Properties in which Iman Feisal was an investor, the article said.

Spiegel Online reported that Iman Feisal's project at 45 Park Place "may cost as much as $150 million and includes plans to use the new building as a "complete Islamic cultural center, with a mosque, a museum, 'merchandising options,' and room for seminars to reconcile religions, 'to counteract the backlash against Muslims in general.'"

A December 8, 2009 article in The New York Times by Ralph Blumenthal and Sharaf Mowjood said that Iman Feisal said that "we want to push back against the extremists," adding that the project "has drawn early encouragement from city officials and the surrounding neighborhood."

Ms. Khan serves on an advisory team for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for the memorial, said "The idea of a cultural center that strengthens ties between Muslims and people of al faiths and backgrounds is positive," according to the article.

"As a Sufi, Iman Feisal follows a path of Islam focused more on spiritual wisdom than on strict ritual, and as a bridge builder, he is sometimes focused more on cultivating relations with those outside his faith than within it," according to the article in The Times.

The Department of Buildings has no records indicating who the architect of the planned building might be.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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