South City Muslim community approved for new mosque despite objections to design

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St. Louis (KTVI) - The City of St. Louis Preservation Board gave a Muslim community in South City preliminary approval to build a new mosque on Allen Avenue.

The decision came down Monday night even after much opposition from the McKinley Heights Neighborhood Association regarding the small mosque's design.

Aayysha Johnson with Quoba Masjid said that the current mosque at 1925 Allen Avenue is too small to accommodate a growing number of people who congregate in the building almost on a daily basis.

"We teach over fifty children a day," Johnson said, "and we are doing this three times a day and the place we have is not enough room."

The new mosque will be located at 2326-2346 Allen Avenue.

Johnson said that the design of the new mosque calls for a lay out that has to face Qibla, which is the direction of the Kaaba, the sacred building at Mecca to which Muslims turn at prayer.

Johnson was also concerned about the safety of those who will be congregating at the new mosque.

"The position of our mosque is directly at the street and there is a parking area that would be sitting there," Johnson explained, "and the reason for that would be for one, I have a child, five of them and kids run away and people drive fast so there is a safety risk there so we have to make sure everyone is safe."

The neighborhood association has been arguing that the design would clash with the historic features of the neighborhood.

"Because of the concerns the mosque had, they did not choose to design their building in a way that complied with all ways of the historic district code," explained Daniel Krasnoff director of the Cultural Resources Office, "and neighborhood folks reiterated their concerns about maintaining the importance of this ordinance and following that in almost all aspects."

There was also a recommendation made by the Cultural Resources Office about building a wall that would essentially conceal the differences compared to the historic layout and surrounding streetscape but the board and the association opposed that idea.

No word yet on when the mosque will be built.


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