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S.L. mosque to get a major face-lift

SALT LAKE CITY — The Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake’s dream of building a new mosque took one step closer to reality last week when the Salt Lake City Planning Commission unanimously approved construction of a new, larger facility at 740 S. 700 East.

Masjid Al Noor — Utah's first mosque — is a place of worship that draws Muslims from all over the Salt Lake Valley. But it's also bursting at the seams. It first opened in the 1980s to a handful of worshippers. Now, 250 people regularly visit the mosque, Imam Muhammed Mehtar said.

"Everything is filled," the imam said as he motioned around the mosque. "It's very, very highly congested."

Those who can't find a place to pray on the main floor end up in the basement. In fact, the mosque is so cramped that a building to the north is also used for services.

According to the imam, the new structure will be twice the size of the current facility and will feature a conference room, expanded areas for washing, and athletic facilities. The cost is projected to be $2 million. The Islamic Society is already raising funds for the project.

And when it is completed, the imam hopes the new mosque will be a place to help all members of the community.

"It brings greater meaning for us, for our community, for Utahns as well, at the same time fulfilling what we need to fulfill," Mehtar said.

The project has already cleared several hurdles with Salt Lake City. The next step will come in April when the plans go before the Historic Landmark Commission.