Sign up
Contact Us (212) 755-5544

New Harlem condo will partially cantilever over historic mosque

February 20, 2007

Sales are expected to start soon for Graceline Court Condominiums, a 32-unit apartment building at 106 West 116th Street by Loewen Development of Larchmont, N.Y., and the Malcolm Shabazz Development Corporation.

The developers worked together on the development of Malcolm Shabazz Court.

The new 16-story building will cantilever over the adjacent mosque on the southwest corner of Lenox Avenue and contain a three-story community facility to house the 5,100-square-foot Shabazz Heritage Museum.

Feder & Stia is the architectural firm for the project whose facade will be divided into white and beige sections.

Loewen Development, of which Howard Loewentheil and Peter J. Murray are principals, has built 2,830 housing units with an aggregate development cost of about $261 million, according to its website, including 1,600 units of affordable housing with projects in New York City and Connecticut and in Westchester, Orange and Dutchess Counties in New York.

The $19 million project is expected to be completed in early 2008 and sales are expected to start with an average sales price of about $675 a square foot.

A permit from the Department of Buildings was issued January 25, 2007.

Floors 2 through 5 will have 2 apartments each. The sixth floor will have 4 apartments. Floors 7 and 8 will have two apartments each. Floors 9 through 12 will have three apartments each and floors 13 to 16 will have a total of 4 duplex apartments.

In his excellent book, "From Abyssinian to Zion, A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship" (Columbia University Press, 2004), David W. Dunlap, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote that "A startingly plump dome on the angular Harlem skyline marks the masjid, or mosque, where El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz - Malcolm X - once ministered." "Founded in 1946 at the Harlem YMCA as Temple Seven of the Nation of Islam, the mosque moved to the Lenox Casino at 102 West 116th Street, built in 1905 to designs by Lorenz F. J. Weiher. Temple Seven was just a storefront in 19954 when Malcolm was named minister by Elijah Muhammad....Splitting from Elijah Muhammad in 1964, Malcolm opened the Muslim Mosque at the Hotel Theresa and was succeeded at Temple Seven by Louis X, later Minister Louis Farrakhan. Temple Seven was destroyed by a dynamite blast after Malcolm's assassination in 1965 but was rebuilt five years later to designs by Sabbath Brown, gaining the dome and bright yellow window bays. It was renamed to honor Malcolm, as was Lenox Avenue."

"The west 116th Street masjid," Mr. Dunlap continued, "is now used by Orthodox Sunni Muslims. (Another Mosque Number Seven, at 106 West 127th Street serves as Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.)"

In their fine book, "The A. I. A. Guide to New York City, Fourth Edition" (Three Rivers Press, 2000), Elliot Willensky and Norval White said that the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque No. 7 at 102 West 116th Street on the southwest corner at Lenox Avenue was formerly Muhammed's Temple of Islam and originally Lenox Casino. They noted that the building was converted to a temple in 1965 to designs by Sabbath Brown.

The authors described the temple as "an innocent translation of the forms of a Middle Eastern mosque into the vernacular materials of 20th Century shopping centers," adding that "The aluminum pumpkin-shaped dome is a parody of those found in the Middle East. Vulgar."


Also in Carter's View: