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. We haven’t been able to figure out yet what type of factory it was, but it doesn’t look to be any kind of hard industry especially given its location. It is also unclear whether there was a period of vacancy or not before the land was purchased by the Benevolent Foundation.
89-89 Van Wyck Expressway