Smaller Museum Dedicated to Islam Will Rise at Park51 Site, Developer Says

By Irene Plagianos on April 30, 2014 9:40am 

 Sharif El-Gamal, developer of Park51, plans to build a museum on the controversial site.
Sharif El-Gamal, developer of Park51, plans to build a museum on the controversial site.
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool

TRIBECA —  The developer behind Park51 will build a three-story museum dedicated to Islam instead of the larger Islamic community center that was originally planned.

Sharif El-Gamal — who once envisioned a $100 million, 15-story glass center at 45-51 Park Place, where Park51 now holds prayer services and cultural events — has scaled back the plans after they sparked controversy and El-Gamal had difficulty raising money.

El-Gamal still plans to demolish the existing buildings on the site, but now he will replace them with a smaller structure containing a museum and a Muslim prayer space, El-Gamal said in a statement.

“New York’s arts and cultural institutions have always been a great inspiration to me and I consider this opportunity to create a museum to be a true privilege,” El-Gamal said.

The 5,000-square-foot museum will be designed by award-winning architect Jean Nouvel, who is leading an expansion of the Museum of Modern Art, El-Gamal said in the statement. It will include space for prayers and community programs, plus a public green space.

The news of the museum comes a few week after Soho Properties, owned by El-Gamal, filed applications with the Department of Buildings to tear down the five-story 45 Park Place and adjacent four-story 51 Park Place.

A spokesman for El-Gamal, Hank Sheinkopf, told The New York Times, which first reported the story, that El-Gamal planned to finance the project himself and hoped to eventually find other benefactors.

No timeline has been set for the construction of the museum.

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