Leaders of a new Islamic center in Redmond say they hope the facility will be an asset to the community at large in addition to serving as a gathering place for its members.
The 45,000-square-foot building is owned and operated by the nonprofit organization Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS) and held its official grand opening last weekend.
“We are designed to be a community center for religious and social needs,” says Hyder Ali, the president of MAPS’ board of directors, and an industry manager in the communications sector at .
The center is located at 17550 NE 67th Court and cost MAPS approximately $6 million to purchase and renovate. It opened at the beginning of August, in time for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when members of the community attend daily prayers and eat meals together.
“That is the time we use it the most,” Ali said.
In addition to a 3,000-square-foot prayer hall that can be expanded by opening a partition for larger religious events, the center has a multipurpose room for basketball and other sports, classrooms, and a kitchen for preparing community meals during Ramadan or for other occasions.
It also is home to a preschool co-op and after-school activities for children, and its members plan to add more programs that will be available to the community. Ali said the center is offering a robotics program for children, and soon will begin offering ESL classes, which will be made available to the public also.
MAPS has between 200 and 250 official members, but Ali said the center is used by more than 1,200 people each week.
Before opening the new center, MAPS rented space in an office complex in Redmond for five years, Ali said.
“We started planning three years ago,” for a permanent location, Ali said. “We found this place, and most of the community lives or works in the area.”
MAPS worked with both a local architect and an architect with experience designing mosques for the project.
Now that the center is up and running, it will continue to add more programs, and Ali said it is drawing a lot of interest from people who have been looking for space to offer educational community offerings, such a possible leadership program for youth offered by a local teacher.
“People are finding out now that we have a facility,” Ali said.
MAPS also has a committee that plans to hold regular community open houses, he said.
For more information on MAPS, visit the center's website at http://www.mapsredmond.org.