Bronx interfaith hub may lose its space due to a bankruptcy

The 2008 Westchester Ave. property where the Islamic Cultural Center of North America has been located since 2003 is slated to be auctioned off as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. Photo Credit: David Handschuh

An interfaith hub in Parkchester is praying for a big break.The Islamic Cultural Center of North America, where Muslims, Jews …

The 2008 Westchester Ave. property where the Islamic Cultural Center of North America has been located since 2003 is slated to be auctioned off as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.
The 2008 Westchester Ave. property where the Islamic Cultural Center of North America has been located since 2003 is slated to be auctioned off as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

An interfaith hub in Parkchester is praying for a big break.

The Islamic Cultural Center of North America, where Muslims, Jews and Christians have prayed under one roof, plans to make one last plea for its space, at 2008 Westchester Ave., which is slated to be auctioned off Dec. 12 as part of the landlord’s bankruptcy proceedings.

Bankruptcy paperwork states that the initial bid must be at least $4.21 million. Sheikh Musa Drammeh, founding chairman of the center, said his organization received pledges totaling about $1.5 million from supporters, but felt it could not compete with developers at the auction.

Drammeh said he is not optimistic any new owner will forego development opportunities and work with his group, but he will try to convince anyone involved that the center’s work is critical.

“We just don’t want to lose the building since it is the birthplace of these programs, but once we know we cannot get the building, then we will find another building,” Drammeh said. “The services will definitely continue.”

Drammeh said The Islamic Cultural Center was in the process of purchasing 2008 Westchester Ave., where it has been located since 2003, but it could not raise enough money. The former landlord then assumed control of the property and asked the center to leave this summer, according to Drammeh.

The landlord, which owns the property through Al Iman Plaza LLC, later filed bankruptcy papers.

Carlos Gonzalez, an attorney for the landlord, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Islamic Cultural Center of North America, which was affiliated with the mosque, Masjid Al-Iman, made headlines for welcoming in Beis Menachem, an aging Jewish congregation that lost members and the money needed to pay rent.

Drammeh said the center has focused on combating any sort of radicalization and promoting understanding and coexistence through a variety of interfaith activities.

For instance, the center and a school located on site — the Islamic Leadership School — participated in the Interfaith Living Museum, a program where Muslim and Jewish students discuss their cultures and learn about how their faiths are similar.

Drammeh said the center’s community development activities spanned everything from offering up a meeting space to supporting Peace December, which focuses on helping communities be less susceptible to gun violence, hate crimes, domestic violence and intolerance.

“[The center] has done all it can to cement the relationship between God’s servants: Muslims, Christians and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists and nonbelievers, and people from all walks of life,” Drammeh said. “That is what we do.”

Sarina Trangle