Park51, originally named Cordoba House (sometimes referred to as the "Ground Zero mosque"), is a planned 13-story, glass and steel Islamic community center with a prayer room, to be located about two blocks from the World Trade Center site, in Lower Manhattan. The facility's design includes a 500-seat auditorium, theater, performing arts center, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school, art studio, food court, September 11 memorial, and prayer space that could accommodate 1,000–2,000 people. The center would replace an existing 1850s Italianate-style building that was damaged in the September 11 attacks.
In July 2009, the real estate company and developer Soho Properties purchased the building and property at 45–47 Park Place for $4.85 million in cash.
Soho Properties' Chairman and CEO, Sharif El-Gamal, initially planned to build a condominium complex at the site, but was convinced by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's idea for a community center with a prayer space. El-Gamal's partner is Nour Mousa, the nephew of Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League.
One investor in the transaction was the Cordoba Initiative, a tax-exempt foundation with assets of $20,000. In the foundation's first five years, from 2004–08, it raised less than $100,000. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is founder, CEO, and Executive Director of Cordoba Initiative, and the project is his brainchild. His wife, Daisy Khan, is a board member.
The project's other investor was the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), another non-profit foundation. Rauf is also the founder and CEO of ASMA, and his wife is its Executive Director. They run it out of the same New York office as the Cordoba Initiative.
The two foundations proposed to use the property as the site for a $100 million community center modeled after NYC's Jewish Community Centers and YMCAs. They are working on the project with El-Gamal, their co-developer
From the official Park51 website:
Park51 celebrates arts, culture and ideas, bringing the best of the world to New York City, and New York City’s energy and diversity to the world. Park51 will become a model for future institutions, with its inclusive focus, sustainable design and dedication to social needs
Park51 strives to:
•Encourage dialogue, harmony and respect amongst all people, regardless of race, faith, gender or cultural background.
•Establish a state-of-the-art eco-friendly facility that will serve as a model and inspiration for sustainable space in an urban context.
•Cultivate neighborly relations amongst New Yorkers, fostering civic participation
•Revive the historic Muslim tradition of education, engagement and service.
•Promote Muslim-Americans identities, engaging New York’s many and diverse Muslim communities.
•Build partnerships and relationships with institutions who share our values
•Provide a wide array of social services for children, women & families, seniors immigrants, small business owners and high-need adult populations
Site of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque located at 45-51 Park Place. It is also the former location of the Burlington Coat Factory.