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Trump's offer for Islamic center site called a 'pathetic' PR attempt

By the CNN Wire Staff
Donald Trump said he wants to buy the space "because it will end a ... highly divisive situation."
Donald Trump said he wants to buy the space "because it will end a ... highly divisive situation."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The majority land owner didn't consider Trump's proposal a real offer, lawyer says
  • Trump had offered to pay 25 percent more than what the owners paid
  • The site is two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood
  • Critics of the center say it is an affront to survivors of the September 11 attacks

New York (CNN) -- Donald Trump's offer to buy the lower Manhattan site where a Muslim group plans to build an Islamic community center is just a "pathetic" attempt to get publicity, said the lawyer for one of the land owners.

Real estate mogul Trump made the offer Thursday in a letter to Hisham Elzanaty, an investor in the controversial Islamic center site. But Elzanaty does not consider Trump's proposal a real offer, attorney Wolodymyr Starosolsky said Thursday night.

Elzanaty has received other offers, but has declined them, the lawyer said. Elzanaty thinks the property might be worth more down the road, so he might hold on to it. Trump had offered 25 percent more than the current owners paid for it.

Elzanaty owns more than 51 percent of the property, and has no more than three partners, the lawyer said.

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Trump's offer stipulated that, if a mosque is to be built, it will be located at least five blocks further from the World Trade Center site. He also said he would pay cash for the site, with an immediate closing.

The site is two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood before the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"I am making this offer as a resident of New York and citizen of the United States, not because I think the location is a spectacular one (because it is not), but because it will end a very serious, inflammatory and highly divisive situation that is destined, in my opinion, to only get worse," Trump wrote.

"Hopefully, something good can happen!" he concluded.

Trump, who starred in the U.S. reality TV show "The Apprentice," has invested in New York real estate for decades. His management company, The Trump Group, owns a number of high-rises in Manhattan and operates casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, as well as several golf courses.

The proposed Islamic center, known as Park51, is slated to include a variety of facilities, including a prayer room, a performing arts center, gym, a swimming pool and other public spaces.

Critics of the center say it is an affront to survivors of the September 11 attacks.

Supporters of the project, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, cite First Amendment rights and the need to express religious tolerance.

CNN's Marcia Biggs and Ben Rooney contributed to this report.

 
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