Muslim community gets final nod to build new mosque, despite neighborhood opposition

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ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis City Muslim community will get to build a new mosque after all.

The final decision comes a year of pushback and opposition from some concerned neighbors regarding Qooba Mosque.

Members have been pushing to build a one-story mosque on a vacant lot it owns at Allen and South Jefferson avenues, which is at the edge of the city’s McKinley Heights Historic District.

“Every day that building is not being built, it impacts these people’s lives on a real basis,” said Faizan Syed Director of CAIR-Missouri who before the St. Louis Preservation Board on Monday night. “All across the country sadly Islamic centers are being proposed and neighborhood associations gather and try to delay those constructions or try to block those constructions.”

The board heard arguments from both sides including from neighbors who are opposed to the site plan.

“The proposed site plan does not conform with McKinnley Heights Historic District’s design standards which ignores the most basic tenant of security, be a good neighbor first,” said Sean Twomey.

The design of the new mosque calls for a layout that has to face Qibla, which is the direction of the Kaaba, the sacred building at Mecca in Saudi Arabia to which Muslims turn to for prayer.

“Pulling in an out, trying to drop off trying to find a parking space backing out it just doesn’t work from basic traffic standards,” Twomey continued, “it also makes it less secure because of the confusion.”

Despite the opposition, the board voted 4-1-2 to deny the appeal and to uphold the building commission.

“When the institution is built it will attract more families of the Islamic faith, to buy properties, to invest within that area and it is not a commercial entity and I think giving it that kind of exemption is appropriate especially in the time that we are living in today,” said Syed.

No word yet on when construction will begin. The approximate cost of construction could be $1 million.

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