After the developer of the controversial Park51 Islamic community center admitted to making mistakes, and the building peacefully opened its doors for a photo exhibit last month, it appeared that the worst had passed for the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." Now, Con Ed is threatening to evict Park51 from one of the structures its leasing from the utility if they don't pay $1.7 million in back rent they say the group owed on October 4.
According to the Post, Con Ed raised the rent on the left half of the complex (Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal owns the right half) from $2,750 a month to $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008. The smaller figured is the rate that was set in 1972. Con Ed sent the organization a letter demanding the money by October 4 or it would evict them from the premises.
Park51's leadership called the move "outrageous," and El-Gamal said, “Whether it is bowing to political pressure or seeking to retain the valuable premises for itself, Con Ed appears intent on proceeding with its wrongful termination." In order to demolish the building that he owns to build the planned 15-story, $100 million community center, El-Gamal will need the approval of Con Ed.
Park51 claims that the utility was incorrect in calculating back rent, and that the organization only owes $881,519 in back rent and $25,875 a month from now on, and they have obtained a court order to prevent Con Ed from ending the lease until a hearing on November 17. Maybe Con Ed needs to look into the eyes of these kids before they consider kicking Park51 out.