2 mosques planned for CB 11 area

Plans to convert a house at 2501 Laconia Avenue into a mosque have stalled.
Community News Group/Arthur Cusano

Plans for a new Bronx Muslim Center on Amethyst Street have been resubmitted to address earlier concerns, while plans for another mosque in Allerton are on hold.

The filing was submitted by the Bronx Muslim Center located on Rhinelander Avenue, to build a new, larger center just down the road on four vacant lots at 1912-1920 Amethyst Street.

The new facility is aimed at alleviating overcrowding at the popular mosque, said the center’s attorney Michael Nacmias of the Eric Plotnik law firm.

Nacmias is representing the project as it goes before Community Board 11’s Land Use Committee.

“They (currently) have space that is good for about 150 people,” Macmias said. “But what happens during Friday prayers is people are actually on the street trying to pray because they can’t get into the building.”

The move to Amethyst will allow the entire congregation, estimated at around 800 members, to pray at the location comfortably, he said.

Earlier proposals featured a three-story mosque that exceeded the zoning’s height restriction, which Macmias said has been addressed in the newest plans submitted.

However the applicant is still asking for a waiver of the parking requirement. No on-site parking is planned.

CB 11 Jeremy Warneke said while the height of the building was a concern, so too were the parking and quality of life issues the new mosque may bring if built on a very narrow one-way street like Amethyst.

“A bigger building there will mean more people and less room,” he said. “During services there will be more people and more traffic. There is no parking, and people will park illegally, or they might leave garbage.”

Macmias said area business owners have offered to let congregation members park in their parking lots on Fridays afternoons, and that many members walk.

The majority of the members live within a mile of both sites in the area around Rhinelander Avenue that has become a hotspot for halal restaurants, markets and retail stores.

But Macmias said the congregation has worked to fit into the diverse Van Nest community.

“They are very conscientious neighbors,” he said. “They are trying to do the best they can for the community and for their own members.”

Meanwhile, plans for another mosque at 2501 Laconia Avenue in Allerton seem to have stalled in the application process.

The two-story brick house, located at 2501 Laconia Avenue, sits at the busy intersection with Mace Avenue and is two blocks away from a stretch of Williamsbridge Road with a strong retail presence.

A United States Post Office and the popular Mazzei playground are also nearby, making parking spaces an already precious commodity.

The property is zoned R4.

The home was purchased by Sagir Chaudhry in April of 2015, who submitted plans to convert the building into a mosque in March of last year.

That permit was rejected by the NYC Department of Buildings on Monday, January 9 due to the application being incomplete at the time of the scheduled plan exam, according to a department spokesman.

Chaudhry can schedule another examination once the application is complete.

He could not be reached for comment.

Warneke said inspectors found work had been done to remove a wall and staircase in the home without a permit, and that a complaint had been filed in December.

He said he was waiting on an update on the project from the DOB.

A separate permit was issued on Tuesday, January 3 for the installation of a temporary construction fence around the property.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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