Report: Saudi King Could Move Manhattan Mosque Site
NEW YORK (WCBS 880/1010 WINS) – A Manhattan attorney is reportedly pitching a plan to move to the so-called Ground Zero mosque from its controversial planned location in Lower Manhattan to the West Village.
Attorney Dudley Gaffin has ties to the Saudi royal family and, according to the Post, is pitching his plan to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The idea would be for the king to buy the now closed St. Vincent’s Medical Center and transfer the mosque and cultural center there.
The center would likely be built on the 12th Street section of the site, just east of 7th Avenue.
The king would also reportedly save the hospital by reopening most of the units that closed when the facility filed for bankruptcy in April.
Gaffin has been floating the idea to community leaders and claims to have spoken to both Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Both officials, however, deny any knowledge of the plan.
The entire deal is estimated to be at least $300 million.
Gaffin’s motivations for bringing the idea to light are reportedly to gauge reaction from city officials and community members.
Brad Hoylman, Chair of the St. Vincent’s Omnibus Committee for Community Board 2, told 1010 WINS on Sunday that “nobody has contacted” them about moving the Islamic cultural center to the location.
Hoylman said if such a proposal was made, the board would be “extremely interested.”
“Anything that would restore health services to the St. Vincent’s site is something we and the community would take very seriously,” he said.
Hoylman said any deal would ultimately have to undergo both a land use review process and a landmarks preservation commission review process. He added that the community board and the public would also have the opportunity to weigh in on the matter.
When asked if he saw any potential backlash about moving the mosque to the St. Vincent’s location, Hoylman dismissed the notion saying “Greenwich Village is an incredibly welcoming community.”
“It has a long history in that regard. I don’t see any issues, although we don’t have details as to what might be planned or what might be proposed at this point,” he said.
A statement released by the Coalition for a New Village Hospital said it has had no communication with the Saudi government and that it could not confirm whether a person who contacted one of its members was affiliated with the Saudi Arabian government or the group developing the mosque.