A front elevation of the new larger mosque planned for Ruby Lake Road.
A front elevation of the new larger mosque planned for Ruby Lake Road. (Terra Max Engineering)

Prompted by a rapidly growing Muslim population and 25-year-old mosque that overflows with visitors many nights, the Islamic Center of Orlando is planning a $10 million expansion, with mass grading contract work open for hire in the coming months, the project manager told GrowthSpotter.

The center's affiliate, Muslim Welfare Association of Greater Orlando, owns nine parcels totaling 8.94 acres that front S. Apopka Vineland Road, and lie south of 4th Street, 5th Street and east of Ruby Lake Road, all directly northwest of Lake Ruby and east of Walt Disney World property.

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The property is now home to the association's affiliate mosque Jama Masjid, and the private K-8 school Muslim Academy of Greater Orlando.

"This mosque was built almost 25 years ago, at a time when there were maybe a few dozen Muslims in the area," said Ijaz Ahmed, project manager and board member of the association. "That population has grown quite a bit since, to where we're often hosting about 800 people on our busiest nights, with a mosque that allows 611 and a covered awning area outdoors for 200 we installed a few years ago."

Greater Orlando's Muslim population is now estimated at 25,000 or more, said Ahmed, who cites about 40 mosques of various sizes in the region.

The association filed a Development Plan this week with Orange County for Phase 1 of redevelopment, which will focus on building a new two-story, 22,314-square-foot mosque that can hold more than 1,200 people, with space for 800 men and 400 women seated on a carpeted floor. It will replace the current 7,000-square-foot mosque, to be demolished after completion.

That first phase should include expanding the two-story school by 3,000 square feet, adding more parking around the mosque, new underground stormwater facilities and the paving of 5th Street from a current dead-end just east of Ruby Lake Road, a few hundred yards further to Pine Street.

That DP filing follows up on approval from July 2015 of the property's new Jama PD zoning by Orange County Commissioners.

Phases 2 and 3 of the expansion, included on the new DP, should include construction of a new gymnasium (18,000 SF), and a community center (22,000 SF) building to host public meal events.

An existing parking lot, pond, retention pond, tennis court, various sidewalks, sheds and trees will be removed during the mass grading and demolition process in the coming months, prior to new mosque construction.

The association has filed for mass grading permits with Orange County, which Ahmed said could be approved at any time. That work would start this summer on clearing trees on the property bringing in 1,500 truckloads of dirt, and installing a stormwater exfiltration system.

Vertical construction of the mosque could start in early 2017, he estimates, with plans to favor steel structure and concrete tilt walls. Contractors for that work have yet to be chosen.

The association has estimated $10 million in investment for both phases of the expansion plan, with $2 million coming first for the mass grading and infrastructure, then about $3 million needed for the new mosque, Ahmed said.

Islamic law prohibits followers from paying or receiving fixed interest, so the association won't pursue a construction loan for the project. Most new mosques are built with equity and member donations, but the association could be open to creative private equity offers, Ahmed said.

Terra-Max Engineering of Orlando is civil engineer on the project, while SIH Associates is the project architect.

Editor's Note: This story was updated Friday morning to correct the number of people the new mosque can hold to 1,200; it had incorrectly been written as 12,439 previously. 

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Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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