According to the Post
, the family that sold the summer's most controversial piece of real estate—45-47 Park Place, the former Burlington Coat Factory store—to the developer who wants to turn it into a community center with a mosque (just two blocks from the World Trade Center) apparently got a much higher offer but still decided to sell to Sharif El-Gamal, who bought it for $4.8 million. How much higher was the other offer? $18 million—in cash! The Post reports, "El-Gamal did offer what could be viewed as a sweetener to his $4.8 million bid in July 2009 -- a job as a property manager for a son of the family, Sethian Pomerantz." Ah, nepotism.
New York developer Kevin Glodek offered $18 million cash for the building in 2007 and was so outraged to hear what the Park 51 developer got it for that he "wondered whether money changed hands under the table, according to sources close to the deal." Glodek's plan for the building: A 60-story condo tower—wonder how that would have gone over in the community vs. Park 51. And apparently another developer offered $17 million cash for the building and another downtown mosque was thinking about buying the building for $18 million. "But the Pomerantz family -- for reasons that remain unclear -- rejected the offers."
An executive at a real estate appraisal firm says that given El-Gamal's offer was 70% than Glodek's, and lower even when considering the declining real estate market at the time, it seems "suspicious." Here's why it could be seen as quite a deal: "Property in the area hovered between $250 to $290 a square foot. El-Gamal purchased the 45-47 Park Place property for the rock-bottom price of just over $100 per square foot."