A Manhattan lawyer with ties to the Saudi royal family is sounding out officials and community leaders about a plan to move the controversial Ground Zero mosque to the West Village.Obviously Bloomberg and Quinn would be bigots if they opposed this. Oh, sorry, we're not supposed to apply labels to Bloomberg.
Attorney Dudley Gaffin is claiming King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia might want to buy shuttered St. Vincent's Medical Center and transfer the mosque to a new Islamic cultural center he would build on a plot at the site, say sources who have heard Gaffin's pitch.
The king, worth more than $20 billion, would also save the hospital, reopening most of the units that closed when St. Vincent's filed for bankruptcy on April 14, the sources said.
They say that Gaffin, who heads his own firm in lower Manhattan, is floating the idea to gauge what the reaction might be -- and to ready a bid to rival the Rudin Organization, which is trying to snap up St. Vincent's in bankruptcy court with an eye on tearing down six hospital buildings for luxury housing.
"He's asking what it would take to put in a bid," said one community leader who did not want to be identified.
"He says the king wants to do this as a p.r. move -- to save the hospital and move the mosque away from the World Trade Center site," the source added. "He wants to show that Muslims can do good works."
"[Gaffin is] talking about the Saudis," said another source, a politically connected lawyer. "I don't know if any conversations have taken place [with them]."
The cost would be at least $300 million -- the combined amount that the Sisters of Charity, which owns the hospital, owes the biggest secured creditors, GE Capital and TD bank.
"He wanted to know what it would cost," said the community leader.
Gaffin said the mosque and cultural center would likely be built in a space now occupied by a shuttered nursing facility on 12th Street, just east of Seventh Avenue.
Sources said Gaffin claimed to have broached the topic with Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, but reps for both denied it.
"No one here has heard of this," said Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna.
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