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Islamic Center Developer to Build Synagogue and Hotel in Midtown: Report

By Mathew Katz | February 11, 2014 10:53am | Updated on February 11, 2014 12:10pm
 Sharif El-Gamal, developer of Park51, plans to build a new home for the Garment Center Congregation.
Sharif El-Gamal, developer of Park51, plans to build a new home for the Garment Center Congregation.
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool

MIDTOWN — The developer behind the controversial proposed Islamic community center near the World Trade center has his eyes on Midtown, with a new proposal to redevelop the home of a decades-old synagogue, according to a report in The New York Times.

Sharif El-Gamal's Soho Properties is working with Murray Hill Properties to buy 205 W. 40th St., the home of the Garment Center Congregation, according to a spokeswoman for Parsons The New School for Design, which owns the building.

El-Gamal hopes to knock down the three-story building and put up a tower that would contain a new home for the synagogue, along with a 23-story retail center and hotel, according to the Times.

El-Gamal and his partner have a contract to purchase the building for about $61.5 million from Persons, the Parsons spokeswoman confirmed.

El-Gamal became an internationally known figure when he planned to build Park51, a 15-story Islamic center, two blocks from the World Trade Center site. The plan faced protests from opponents who said that a mosque so close to Ground Zero was disrespectful, as well as support from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others who said the developers had the right to build a worship space and cultural center.

El-Gamal and the Garment Center Congregation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Under the proposal for the West 40th Street building, the synagogue would temporarily move while its 49-year home was demolished, and then would move into the new building when it is completed, the report said. The developers also made an undisclosed donation to the synagogue, according to the report.

The developers hope to finalize the deal by early March, the Times reported.