In 2009, developer Sharif El-Gamal’s Soho Properties purchased the lot at 45 Park place in lower Manhattan for $4.85 million. The next year, he proposed to build a 15-story Islamic cultural center—two blocks north of where the former World Trade Center once stood—which came to be known as the “Ground Zero Mosque.” The response was so virulent that El-Gamal abandoned his plans; now, Bloomberg Business reports, the developer has proposed a 70-story, ultra-luxury condominium building for the location. So ends the biggest political story (“story”) in the country in 2010.
El-Gamal dropped the cultural center in 2011. “It was deeply disturbing that we have such a bad PR issue as Muslims,” he told The Real Deal last year. “I feel grateful to God that he allowed me to be a custodian of that baton for a period of time, but I also feel that it’s important for us to reflect on the principles of this country—among them religious freedoms and freedom of speech.”
Since then, Soho Properties has acquired three plots on Park Place adjacent to the initial site (which El-Gamal had gotten, in the wake of the financial crisis, for a quarter of what the seller had been offered two years prior—a good deal!).
According to Bloomberg, the proposed 667-foot skyscraper will include at least 15 full-floor units of 3,200 to 3,700 square feet at average prices of higher than $3,000 per square foot—more than 13 percent pricier than average new-development listings in Manhattan. Amenities will include a 50-foot swimming pool in the basement, concierge service, and a high-ceilinged private lounge, building designer Michel Abboud said.
El-Gamal hopes to break ground for the tower (scheduled to be completed by 2017) before the end of this year, with sales beginning in 2016, although the plans are still being reviewed by the state attorney general’s office.