Con Ed threatens to evict Ground Zero Mosque

The Ground Zero Mosque is in danger of being evicted because it owes the electric company $1.7 million in back rent.

The Park 51 group building the Islamic community center has sued Con Ed.

New York Post:

Con Ed has given the Ground Zero mosque an ultimatum: Pay the $1.7 million you owe in back rent, or we'll terminate your lease and take back our property.

Con Ed and mosque developer Park51 have an unusual, uneasy alliance, sharing ownership of a site slated to be one of the most controversial projects in city history.

The utility owns a former substation on the western half of the property, at 51 Park Place, and the mosque developers own a five-story building on the eastern half. The buildings were connected years ago and used to house a Burlington Coat Factory store.

Park51, which leases the substation from Con Ed, wants the two buildings so it can knock both down and build a $100 million, 15-story community center.

But the plan hit a major obstacle in August when Con Ed raised the rent from $2,750 a month, a rate set in 1972, to $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008, The Post has learned.

When the mosque failed to fork over the $1.7 million, the utility fired off a letter demanding the money by Oct. 4 and threatening to evict.

Park51 principals responded with a lawsuit to stop the increase, calling Con Ed's rent demands "outrageous."

"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," argued Sharif El-Gamal, the lead Park51 developer.

"Political pressure?" The political elites in New York city love the mosque, defended it, marched in support of it. Outside pressure from others shouldn't have any bearing on the politics of the matter.

It does beg the question of why they raised the rent by 2000 percent all of a sudden. But I suspect Con Ed didn't like the publicity any more than any other business would and wants to be rid of their lease partner.

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