Along the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens, not too far from the Jamaica train station, stands a mosque clearly converted from an old factory. A painted turquoise dome rises above the drab factory exterior as well as a simple minaret. The building has been the New York headquarters of the Imam Al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation, an “international, religious, charitable institution established by the Late Ayatullah Seyyid Abulqasim Al-Khoei,” since 1989. The building contains a prayer hall, library, community center, school, and the iman’s apartment.
Researching the certificates of occupancy show that the building was built in 1945 as a factory and office. In the basement were locker rooms and a “restaurant” of sorts, probably a worker cafeteria. In 1955, a car garage was added and in 1966, a metal shed was added to store manufacturing materials. A reader has told us that he distinctly remembers it being a factory for ladies foundation undergarments. It is unclear whether there was a period of vacancy or not before the land was purchased by the Benevolent Foundation.
89-89 Van Wyck Expressway