UPDATED — The Islamic Society of Wichita has rezoned about five acres of land near its mosque at K-96 and Woodlawn.
The society sought general office zoning in preparation for development that could include an apartment complex, an office complex, a medical clinic and a financial institution.
“It’s not about making money,” says Muhammad Aamir Usmani, director of the society’s board of development. “It’s about supporting our existing services.”
Usmani, who manages the IT help desk at Wichita State University, says the society first started building on the almost 9-acre property in 2000.
“Initially, we had a gym,” he says.
It served as a multipurpose building. Then, the group added a mosque and a school followed by another building.
“Everything is attached to each other right now,” Usmani says.
The buildings look separate, though.
The latest building is a new school for pre-K through eighth grade. Fundraising is under way for a high school to be built on the second floor.
“Our goal is to start ninth (grade) in August,” Usmani says.
He says while there are tuition fees, the society still needs to raise money for education and outreach programs to the community.
“We need to keep doing that and possibly expand it. . . . There are a lot of programs that are supported by the community.”
Usmani says 600 to 800 people regularly attend the mosque.
“There’s a lot of expenditure.”
That’s why he says the society is seeking additional sources of revenue.
“We need to make sure we start raising some funds so we can support our services to the community.”
A 2-story apartment complex is a possibility. The apartments would be available to anyone in Wichita – not only Islamic Society members.
“It will be totally open,” Usmani says. “But, of course, there will be some people who would like to live closer to the center. We anticipate that a lot of people would like to come closer to the center.”
A small bank or credit union is a possibility as well.
“We will also have an office complex,” Usmani says. “Also, we might have a small clinic eventually.”
There would be an expanded parking lot as well along with a possible small soccer field.
The Wichita City Council approved the rezoning with some conditions, and Usmani says the society is working with a consultant to see what’s possible as far as development. He says the society also is working with the nearby neighborhood association “to make sure that they’re OK with it.”
Usmani says the society’s board will finalize how it wants to proceed and then raise the money to do it.
“We are in the process right now,” he says. “We’re pretty confident.”