NEW YORK - Ambitious plans to build a mosque next to New York`s Ground Zero cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday when a commission unanimously voted down a proposal to landmark an existing structure on the site from a protected list.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously in favor of an application to end the protected status of the 1850s Italian Renaissance palazzo-style building, which now houses only an abandoned clothing store.
"The commission voted 9-0 in favor of removing the building at 45-47 Park Place" from the landmarks list, said the body`s chairman Robert Tierney.
Many applauded the decision, but others shouted "shame" and one women held a placard saying: "don`t glorify murders of 3,000, no 9/11 mosque" and "Islam builds mosques at the sites of their conquests."
Supporters say the project will help build bridges between the West and the Muslim world and transform both the drab lower Manhattan street and the way Americans have looked on Muslims since 9/11.
Boasting a mosque with sports facilities, a theater and possibly day care, the multi-story Islamic center would be open to all visitors to demonstrate that Muslims are part of their community, not some separate element.
But the proposed mosque`s location, just around the corner from the gaping Ground Zero hole, where nearly 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, has angered many New Yorkers who see it as an affront.
BDST 2000 HRS, AUGUST 3, 2010.