Ground Zero Mosque Given Ultimatum to Pay Up or Leave

October 17 00:00 2011

New York, October 17 ( – The so-called Ground Zero Mosque, the controversial Park51 Islamic community center, is under threat of eviction from Con Ed over payment of $1.7 million in back rent. After its developer admitted to making mistakes and after the building opened peacefully for a photo exhibit last month, Con Ed threatened to evict Park51 from one of the structures if the back rent that was owed on October 4 was not paid.

Con Ed had raised the rent on the left half of the complex from $2,750 a month (a rate that was set in 1972) to $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008. Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal, who owns the right half, called the move “outrageous,” and said, “Whether it is bowing to political pressure or seeking to retain the valuable premises for itself, Con Ed appears intent on proceeding with its wrongful termination.”

El-Gamal will need the approval of Con Ed if he wants to demolish the building that he owns to build the planned 15-story, $100 million community center. Park51 says that the back rent calculation is incorrect and that it should be $881,519 in back rent and $25,875 a month from now on. It added that it had obtained a court order to prevent Con Ed from ending the lease until a hearing on November 17.