West African mosque may lose Harlem space

Imam Souleimane Konate and Aqsa mosque at 2138 Eighth Avenue

The Aqsa West African mosque at 2136 Eighth Avenue, just south of 116th Street, may be in danger of losing its space, three years after two congregations merged in response to rising rents and began holding services at the Harlem site. Imam Souleimane Konate believes that Homeside Development, which bought the Aqsa building for $3.7 million in 2008, wants to build on the site or sell to another developer, Crain’s reported. “The economy is not that great,” said Joseph Rabizadeh, the new landlord, who refused to elaborate on his plans for the property. But Shimon Shkury, managing director of Massey Knakal Realty Services, who sold him the land, believes it will eventually be developed. “At some point, you’ll definitely see a high-rise of mixed-use buildings going up there,” Shkury said. The loss of the mosque would be a heavy blow to Harlem’s West African community. Members of the mosque are trying to raise more than $2 million to buy the former site of the Greater Zion Hill Baptist Church, just a block away, which was gutted by a fire in 2000. [Crain’s]

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