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Panel’s landmark denial frees up NYC mosque

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By Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A city commission Tuesday denied landmark status to a building near the World Trade Center site, freeing a group to convert the property into an Islamic community center and mosque that has drawn national opposition.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 9-0, saying the 152-year-old building blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks wasn’t special enough to meet criteria to qualify as a landmark. Commissioners said other buildings from the era were better examples of the building’s style.

National and New York politicians and the Anti-Defamation League have come out against plans for the mosque, saying it disrespects the memory of Sept. 11 victims. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who chairs the foundation building the Sept. 11 memorial, has defended the mosque.

Several members of a crowd of 50 applauded, while others shouted “Shame!” as commission chairman Robert Tierney called for the vote. One opponent, Linda Rivera of Manhattan, held up a sign reading, “Don’t glorify murders of 3,000. No 9/11 victory mosque.”

Supporters of landmark status, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio and some Sept. 11 family members, had argued the building warranted landmark status because it was struck by airplane debris during the attacks.

But commissioner Christopher Moore noted that the debris hit a number of buildings.

“One cannot designate hundreds of buildings on that criteria alone,” he said.  

The mosque would be part of an Islamic community center to be run by the Cordoba Initiative, which says the center will be a space for moderate Muslim voices.