BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | An East Village mosque plans a major facelift.
The Madina Masjid (which means “city mosque,” in Arabic), also known as the Islamic Council of America, has existed since 1976 at 401 E. 11th St., at First Avenue. In fact, it’s New York City’s second-oldest mosque — though not originally built as one. The existing structure dates to 1910.
The plan — which would create a more ornate-looking facade and remove or reconfigure windows — is budgeted at $6.5 million. The eastern part of the mosque’s property also would be built up, though not all of it to the full five-story height.
The mosque was not open yet for prayers this Thursday morning when The Village Sun stopped by. However, Mustapha Daky, who said he works at the mosque doing security, happened to be around outside the place. He said his understanding is that the work could begin soon. The Department of Buildings’ Web site, though, currently doesn’t appear to show any plans on file for the work.
In fact, the mosque has already rented out a swing space across the street — the former Commodities health-food space at 165 First Ave. He said he toured the storefront with the mosque’s leaders two weeks ago and that they will be paying $20,000 a month for it.
Daky said he is praying the mosque will be able to reach its funding goal for the project. Madina Masjid’s congregation, he noted, is a humble one, contrasting it with a wealthier one down in the Wall Street area.
“These are bike guys,” he said of the mosque’s attendees, “not doctors and lawyers.”
A 40-year neighborhood resident, Daky has worshiped at the house of worship for that long. He noted there used be a dry cleaner in the building’s corner storefront, which was later closed and its exterior bricked-up. There also were occupied residential apartments — extremely large ones, he noted — on the upper floors, but they have been vacant for the past 20 years.
“Just pigeons,” he quipped, with a smile.
According to Property Shark, 401 E. 11th St. is listed as having six residential apartments and one commercial unit. It was last purchased in March 1979.