Augusta officials recently broke ground on the city's TEE Center, and Columbia County will soon have a TIE Center.
The Islamic Society of Augusta is about to embark on an expansion project off Old Evans Road near Old Petersburg Road that is estimated to cost about $4 million.
"We decided to go ahead and pursue the new plans for this site," said Islamic Society of Augusta President Mohamed Abo-Elhamd. "The current mosque now is getting too small for our activities."
The proposed 51,000-square-foot mosque will incorporate a large prayer area, a multipurpose hall and several classrooms on the first level. On the second floor, an indoor gymnasium with basketball courts, a lounge area and space for other activities is planned.
A soccer field is also planned and will be open to anyone in the community.
The TIE Center, an area designated for youths, is named for the first-name initials of Tariq Fischer, Imran Khan and Ebadullah Hasan, who were killed in a 2005 car crash on Interstate 20.
Fischer and Khan were graduates of Lakeside High School.
"Both of them, that was their dream to have a soccer field," Abo-Elhamd said. "They wanted something for the activities."
Currently, members of the Islamic Society meet in a smaller structure in Martinez off Pleasant Home Road. The mosque serves about 300 families from the Augusta area.
Plans and drawings have been submitted to Columbia County for approval, said Dr. Hossam Fadel, the chairman of the new mosque's construction committee. After a building permit is issued, the organization will seek bids from potential contractors.
The 8.5-acre lot in Martinez was cleared last year, and construction was initially slated to start in January, Fadel said.
"Things take a much longer time than what we really expected," he said. "We still feel that if things go well from now on, we'll probably (start) sometime in August or early September."
Work on the mosque will likely be split in two phases, Fadel said. The first phase is expected to last more than a year.
The current mosque's future will be decided by a committee after the new building is complete, which could take three years.
"The mosque in the past used to be just like a worship place," Abo-Elhamd said. "Now we want it to be like a social place."
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