A Manhattan judge has blocked Consolidated Edison from evicting Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the controversial Islamic center near Ground Zero known as Park51, which is colloquially known as the Ground Zero Mosque.
Justice Richard Braun granted el-Gamal a Yellowstone injunction. Yellowstone injunctions are used by commercial tenants seeking to suspend the eviction imposed by landlords before the end or termination of a lease, according to the New York Law Journal.
Con Ed, which owns the western half of the property of 51 Park Pl, ordered the el-Gamal out of the building unless he was able to pay $1.7 million he owed in rent and about $230,000 in real estate taxes and about $30,000 on a power bill.
We are among the many parties that have defended the tenant's right to buy the property and develop it. In seeking the payments we believe are due, we are fulfilling our fiduciary obligation to our ratepayers and shareholders, said Con Ed in a statement to IBTimes.
However, Justice Braun also ruled that Park51 must pay $25,875 per month in rent. This less than what Con Ed wanted the Park51, but is more than double the rent they are paying now, according to documents from Con Ed forwarded to IBTimes.
We are pleased that the court has increased the monthly payment the tenant must make and we will address questions as the case continues, said Con Ed in a statement to IBTimes.
Plaintiff speculates as to whether defendant [Con Edison] may be bowing to unspecified political pressure, wrote Braun in his decision. Braun was alluding to last summer when the controversy over the Islamic center erupted, according to the court documents forwarded to IBTimes.
The dispute over the rent dates back to August 2008 when the two parties were unable to come to agreement regarding rent. After an appraisal process, the value of 51 Park Pl. was listed ast $10.35 million. A formula was used to determine the rent as it correlates to to the appraisal. Eventually, el-Gamal began dramatically falling behind. Con Ed sent a notice that el-Gamal had to pay $1.7 million by September of 2011. Once that date passed, Con Ed sent a notice of termination, but el-Gamal resisted and the lawsuits began.
Con Ed told IBTimes that they are considering all options regarding an appeal.