By Gabriela Resto-Montero
MANHATTAN — Backers of the Park51 mosque near Ground Zero filed suit against a previous tenant of the building, the Burlington Coat Factory, alleging that the retailer purposefully damaged the building's facade out of hostility towards the project, the New York Daily News reported.
The project's developers are suing Burlington Coat Factory for $4.5 million for damage done to the building's facade when the retailer took down two signs without permission, the News reported.
Because the signs were so large — one measured 129 square feet — their hasty removal allegedly did permanent damage to the facade of the building at 51 Park Place, according to the suit cited by the News.
The suit said Burlington Coat Factory was only prompted to remove the signs when the mosque project began to receive national attention in May 2010.
"The signs were bolted and permanently attached to the building, and provided plaintiffs a valuable asset which increased the value of the premises and provided rental income from advertising on the sign," the suit alleges.
The building at 45-51 Park Place was heavily damaged on 9/11 when landing gear from one of the jets crashed through the roof. The Burlington Coat Factory shop never reopened afterward, but the signs remained in place for years while the building sat in disrepair.
The Burlington Coat Factory's lease at the building ended in 2008, the News reported.