Park 51, the Islamic center and mosque planned and protested near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, won't just be any ol' controversial, multi-story house of worship when it opens. The Post reports today that Sharif El-Gamal, the project's developer, has planned to turn the currently non-descript space into a "futuristic-looking building wrapped in a honeycomb of abstract shapes ... cosmopolitan and fun." In fact, it'll be so cool that it might even silence its critics. "I don't think that once this thing gets built, anyone will be picketing," El-Gamal said.
Maybe you thought El-Gamal would stick to the mosque basics, but no.
The largest part of the building - four floors - would be taken up by a sports, fitness and swimming center. Another full floor would be occupied by a child care center and playground. Much of the rest of the building would be occupied by a restaurant, culinary school, artist studios, exhibition space and an auditorium for cultural events.
It'll also be progressive, multi-cultural, inter-faith and encourage coupling. It's practically an Equinox.
El-Gamal said the idea was to build a facility that will attract neighborhood residents looking for a place to work out, as well as suburban Muslim couples spending "date night" in the city. The 12th floor would hold a 9/11 memorial and sanctuary open to people of all faiths. "We want to do something that is green and cool," El-Gamal said ... "It's not a mosque and it's not at Ground Zero."
With its tough door policy, surrounding controversy, and relatively unpopular location, this is angling to be a New York hot-spot. So will its protesters end up hitting the Park 51 gym?
Related: Muhammad Comes to Manhattan [NYM]