Groundbreaking planned for new North County Muslim center


By Elizabeth Marie Himchak


Muslims from throughout North County are closer to having a new center in which to gather and worship.

A ground-breaking ceremony will be held for the Muslim Community Center of Greater San Diego at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on a 5-acre site in Santaluz.

It consists of a $2 million, 8,000-square-foot building at 14674-14698 Via Fiesta. Sayed Ali, chairman of the center, said its size will expand to 10,000 square feet when verandas are included.

The center will have a multipurpose room to be used for prayer and social gatherings, six rooms that will primarily be used for children’s religious education on weekends, an office and break room.

Among those scheduled to participate in the three-hour celebration are Rep. Brian Bilbray, Imam Seyed Mohammed AlQazwin from the Islamic Education Center of San Diego and keynote speaker Sulayman S. Nyang, professor and former chairman of the African Studies Department at Howard University. About 400 people have been invited to attend.

For several years, the faith community of about 100 families has been working toward building a permanent home, said Anita Tallman, MCC spokeswoman.

Shortly after forming in 2001, the members began meeting in a rented space in Rancho Penasquitos. Within a few years, they started to outgrow their facility, and by 2005 bought the Santaluz site. Currently, the center’s office is located along Rancho Bernardo Road, and members meet for prayers in the Courtyard by Marriott in Rancho Bernardo.

Ali said the center “is designed to very much look like Santaluz” with its strong Spanish influence, and the Spanish and Islamic architectural styles are very similar.

“The Islamic culture had a lot of presence in Spain centuries ago,” Ali said. “If you look at the architecture of the Spanish colonial (time, the Islamic influence) shows up.”

Included in the center’s design are a tile roof and stone arches, he said.

Construction will start soon after Saturday’s ceremony. The center should be complete by May or June, Ali said.

The center was designed by Scott Grunst and will be built by Ed Hughes Construction.

In a second phase - several years from now - Ali said a recreational hall, patios and perhaps a basketball court will be added.

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