Petition submitted to demolish steakhouse, build mosque in Lincolnwood of US

Petition submitted to demolish steakhouse, build mosque in Lincolnwood of US
(Saturday, May 23, 2015) 11:53

Leaders of a Chicago-based mosque have purchased the former Myron & Phil's site on the 3900 block of West Devon Avenue with the intention of building a two-story Islamic spiritual center for the Muslim community.

Sacred Learning NFP, a nonprofit Islamic religious organization, has submitted a petition to the village of Lincolnwood to demolish the former building that housed Myron & Phil's steakhouse, a Lincolnwood institution for more than four decades that closed down two years ago following a fire.

Owner of Myron & Phil's, Mark Freedman—whose late father and late uncle founded the restaurant—has since purchased a new property on Caldwell and Touhy avenues with plans to open a new restaurant.

 Islamic leaders representing Sacred Learning NFP explained their plans for the property to trustees during the May 19 Village Board meeting. Sayeed Shariff, executive vice president of the organization, has said the facility would include a mosque, but it would primarily be used as site for Islamic education that would offer classes on evenings and weekends.

"This is a boutique mosque, and not a big mega-center that we're trying to create," Shariff said. "Our primary purpose is learning, and the mosque is a secondary use."

According to the site plans submitted to the village, the Islamic center would host five daily prayer sessions per day beginning at dawn and ending 90 minutes after sunset. The building would have a worship space with room for 113 prayer mats that would double as a classroom, and would also include office space and a lecture area.

The property is already properly zoned for religious uses, but the developers will need approval from the Village Board for six zoning variations relating mostly to parking and landscaping.

Shariff, who was joined at the May 19 Village Board meeting by Husain Sattar, president of Sacred Learning, NFP, along with about 50 supporters of the mosque, addressed concerns raised by Trustee Ron Cope about possibility of the center bringing heavy traffic to the area.

"It's not our intent to fill the mosque up with a lot of people," Shariff said. "At our busiest time, we'll have no more than 50 to 60 congregants [at the center]."

Cope said he was primarily concerned about traffic safety issues that could potentially arise due to an influx of vehicles coming in and out of the facility during the frequent prayer times. He requested formal confirmation about the traffic safety of the area before he would agree to approve the variations, and village staff said they would consult with the engineers and report back to the board.

"It's important that before we approve this plan, that we make sure it's safe," Cope said. "I want to hear the village engineer say that there won't be any safety issues."

Cope also inquired about what subjects would be taught in the classes that would be held at the Islamic education center. Sattar, who said he designed the organization's academic programs, said the classes would focus on spiritual development.

"We focus on the basic pillars of our faith, as well as the legal and spiritual aspects of our faith," Sattar said. "We don't run a big show, but we run a quality show."

Sacred Learning NFP currently houses its operations in a building on the north side of Chicago on the 5900 block of North Lincoln Avenue.

The Village Board will decide at a future board meeting whether to approve the requested variances that would allow the organization to construct the new building.


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