An East Side mosque has purchased a former Presbyterian church near East Towne Mall and plans to make the location its permanent home.
The Islamic Center of East Madison, which ran into opposition three years ago when it tried to buy property in Sun Prairie, closed June 26 on the former Parkside Presbyterian Church, 4002 Lien Road, according to church and mosque officials. Neither side disclosed the purchase price.
“We were able to close approximately two days before Ramadan (Islam’s holy month), which I think will be a fine thing for that congregation,” said the Rev. David Butler, a retired Presbyterian minister from Montello who assisted the church in selling the property. “We are praying that God will prosper their work there.”
The new site for the mosque is just off East Washington Avenue, across Lien Road from Laredo’s Mexican Restaurante. The building was constructed in 1959.
The Islamic Center of East Madison, one of three mosques in the city, currently is located in leased commercial space at 2713 E. Washington Ave., just down the street from the Hawthorne Branch of the Madison Public Library.
Gibril Jarjue, president of the mosque’s board, said the new location appeals because it keeps the mosque on the city’s East Side and because the building already housed a worship community. The board has not determined a timeline for moving in, he said.
Because the property already is zoned for use as a worship site, mosque officials do not expect to need additional city permits. That was the issue that thwarted the mosque’s plans in 2011 to move to Sun Prairie.
The mosque, then known as Madison Muslim Dawa Circle, had an accepted offer to purchase a site in the Nature’s Preserve Office Park, but members of the office park’s condo association opposed the idea, citing traffic and parking concerns.
The Sun Prairie City Council ultimately denied a conditional use permit the mosque would have needed to operate in the business park.
City and office park officials said at the time their opposition was based solely on practical matters and that the mosque would be welcomed elsewhere in the community. The mosque stayed in Madison, moving to larger leased quarters as it continued its search for a permanent site.
Jim Zuelsdorf, a former Parkside member, said selling the building to another congregation eases the sting of the church’s closure a bit.
“A lot of people had expressed interest in that desire — that it remain a worship center of some sort for another community,” he said. “We’re very pleased it all worked out and they were able to purchase the building.”