NEW YORK—The New York Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to deny landmark status to the building at 45-47 Park Place located two blocks from ground zero, paving the way for the construction of a mosque and community center that has been the center of heated debate due to its proximity to the site of the worst terrorist attack ever conducted on American soil.
Of the 11 members on the panel of commissioners, nine attended Tuesday's public voting, which was headed by commissioner Robert B. Tierney. If the building is granted individual landmark designation, it must seek approval from the commission before alterations or destruction are allowed. The law also stipulates that the purpose of the building is not to be considered when determining whether the building warrants this designation.
All nine commissioners weighed in on the historical and artistic significance of the building during the voting proceeding and agreed that the building did not meet the requirements for a landmark designation, which must display “special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value, as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation,” according to the commission’s website.
Tierney said that the building at 45-47 Park Place “does not rise to the level of an individual landmark” and that the arguments for a landmark designation were “ultimately unpersuasive.”
Previous arguments for the landmark status had included the building's unique Italian Renaissance-style architectural design and the fact that a wheel from the American Airlines Flight 11 plane that crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, had landed at the site.
The commissioners, however, noted that many other buildings in the city have similar designs, and Commissioner Christopher Moore said many other locations near ground zero had also been hit by the debris.
The public voting was attended by those who opposed, as well as by those who supported the building of Park51, the Islamic community center that will also house a prayer room for Muslims. One protester walked in during the voting and held up a sign that read, “Don’t glorify murders of 3000—no 9/11 victory mosque.”
Issac Luria, communications director for J Street, an organization that advocates and lobbies for “pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” was there to submit over 10,000 signatures collected in support of the mosque.