The developer of an Islamic center in lower Manhattan said that controversy over its proximity to the World Trade Center was an “incredible blessing,” giving him access to capital from around the world.
“The greatest advantage that I have is overnight I have turned into a public figure,” Sharif El-Gamal, chairman and chief executive officer of New York-based Soho Properties, said at a conference sponsored by brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services. “I literally have a whole P.R. team that fields my interview requests.”
Soho Properties invests in real estate in New York City. El-Gamal’s plans for an Islamic cultural center two blocks north of Ground Zero ignited a political controversy last year. Protesters said its placement near the site of deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history would be an insult to those who were killed there. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said denying Muslims the right to build the center would undermine America’s values and damage its image.