NIAGARA FALLS – A Muslim congregation plans to build a $1 million mosque on Pierce Avenue and move out of the storefront where members have worshiped.
Masjid Tawba, the name of the congregation, will seek approval of its plans at the Niagara Falls Planning Board meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in City Council Chambers.
Project Coordinator Dr. Mohamed S. Ahmed said he was pleased at the support they have received from neighbors and hopes that building the new mosque will upgrade the depressed neighborhood.
Ahmed, an oncologist and medical director for Roswell Park Hematology and Oncology in Niagara Falls, said Masjid Tawba members have felt unsafe in the area and were going to other mosques to worship.
In addition, gas leaks and water leaks had damaged their current site at 1801 Pierce Ave.
“We think if it’s clean and safe and there is nice parking then more people might come,” said Ahmed.
He said the congregation also wants to be a part of the overall improvement of the Niagara Falls community.
The $1.1 million project includes an 80-by-80-foot mosque, with a basement and mezzanine, as well as a parking lot with basketball and volleyball courts.
According to the plans, the mosque at 1737 Pierce Ave. would have an unusual placement on the lot to face Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad and the direction Muslims face when they pray.
Masjid Tawba owns the property and plans to demolish a laundromat on the site.
In addition, the congregation proposes using a vacant lot it owns across the street, at 1310 18th St., as a lot with 67 parking spaces and basketball and volleyball courts. A variance was granted for the parking lot by the Niagara Falls Zoning Board last week.
Masjid Tawba was founded in Niagara Falls in 2004.
The Planning Board will also look at a proposal by Michael Lewis of Cataract Realty for a 1,500-square-foot patio to serve the adjacent Power City Eatery at 444 Third St.
Another commercial development is being proposed by Anthony Poletti of Marketside Restaurant to convert a vacant building at 716 E. Market St. into a new dining area and construct a new building for indoor bocce courts.