Mosque Project Pie In The Sky?
A very smart piece by POLITICO’s Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman raises the question about whether all this uproar over the mosque proposed for construction near Ground Zero is even worth it, noting the project is only in the most nascent of planning stages and, with the way real estate rolls in New York City, may very well never be built at all.
When President Barack Obama turned the battle over a planned New York Islamic center into a national debate over religious freedom, he unwittingly allied himself and his party with an ill-planned, long-shot development project described by one of its most prominent allies as ‘amateur hour,’” Smith and Haberman write.
“The efforts to launch the $100 million Cordoba House (now dubbed Park51) two blocks north of the World Trade Center site have been an uphill battle from the start, and not just because of controversy. And even as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ emerges as a hotly debated national symbol, New York government officials and real estate insiders are privately questioning whether the project has much chance of coming to fruition.”
Here’s what I see as the most important part of the story:
For all its problems, the project does have a solid chance of accomplishing one thing: further embarrassing the president.
But to veterans of New York real estate wars, Park51 provides an object lesson in how not to handle development politics in a city in which, even under the mildest of conditions, construction projects are fraught with potential peril.
In other words: Obama might just have expended an enormous amount of political capital and stepped into the equivalent of a political hornets nest for…nothing.
I had been wondering when someone was going to write this story.
For weeks now, mosque supporters like AG Andrew Cuomo have been trying to deflect calls for an investigation into the project’s funding by repeatedly noting that – by the developers’ own admission – there IS NO funding stream to investigate as of yet. In fact, as Smith and Haberman point out, the Cordoba Initiative’s last fundraising report with the AG’s office, which dates back to 2008, shows exactly $18,255 – far off from the $100 million pricetag of this project.
Of course, the developers haven’t been helping the matter – and even fanning the flames outright – by saying they’d be open to accepting cash from overseas governments. That gives fuel to opponents who insist this project is going to be bankrolled by Islamic fundamentalists who only want to build a so-called “trophy” mosque near Ground Zero and are hell bent on destroying America.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on August 18, 2010 at 8:55 pm, and is filed under Mosque. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|