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]