Developer Sharif El-Gamal announced his plan Tuesday to build a three-story museum “dedicated to exploring the faith of Islam and its arts and culture” at 41-51 Park Place, a few blocks from the World Trade Center site, the New York Times reported.
The museum will also include a sanctuary for prayer and community programs, El-Gamal spokesman Hank Sheinkopf told the New York Times.
“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 in a statement.
While El-Gamal’s original plans for a 15-story, $100 million mosque and community center in 2010 were much more ambitious in scope, his new project will be around 5,000 square feet and include a public green space. Award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel will design the building, according to the statement.
“This is a more tailored approach, both physically and programmatically,” said Sheinkopf. “It will prove to be an important addition to the neighborhood and to New York City’s arts and cultural community.”
El-Gamal’s proposed “Ground Zero mosque” opened in 2011 after critics, including family members of 9/11 victims, expressed outrage over the proximity of the mosque to the Ground Zero site.
But the planned community center failed to take off in the way that El-Gamal hoped and has mostly been used for prayer services instead of community events. The developer filed plans to demolish the five-story building this month.
Sheinkopf doesn’t expect the museum will rankle critics as the mosque did, but some have already spoken out against it.
“The structure as you describe it would be as grotesque as a three-story museum dedicated to exploring the faith of Shintoism and emperor-worship, and its arts and culture, with a sanctuary for prayer services and community programs, at Pearl Harbor,” Robert Spencer, who runs the blog Jihad Watch, told the New York Times.