New York utility Con Edison is threatening to evict the so-called ground zero mosque unless its developers come up with $1.7 million in back rent, the New York Post reports
The utility owns a former substation on the western half of the property, which it leases to mosque developer Park51. The developer plans to erect a controversial 15-story community center on the site, which once housed a Burlington Coat Factory store.
In August, Con Edison raised the rent from the 1972 rate of $2,750 a month to $47,437 a month, retroactive to July 31, 2008, according to The Post, which says that the utility demanded payment of the $1.7 million by Oct. 4. It threatened eviction if payment was not received.
“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,” says Sharif El-Gamal, the lead Park51 developer. Park51 called the rate increase “outrageous” in a lawsuit.
Park51 argues that it owes less than half of what the power company is asking for in back rent. As such, a court has issued an order preventing Con Edison from ending the lease beforte a Nov. 17 hearing. Park51 maintains that it should have to pay only $25,875 a month.
Gamal’s group reportedly paid $4.8 million for the building in 2009 and another $700,000 to lease the substation.
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