The Islamic Center of Naperville is working on designs for an education center, mosque and community center on the city's far southwest side.
The facility on 248th Avenue will be the Islamic Center's third worship and gathering space since it was founded in 1991.
The center initially will focus on youths, said Shoaib Khadri, president of the congregation.
"We're making this an education center to begin with," he said. "The next phase will be a mosque."
The congregation of about 2,000 families purchased 14 acres on the east side of 248th between 95th and 103rd streets about five years ago as membership increased.
"We see a lot of new families moving to the area," Khadri said. "Our current facilities are inadequate for a growing community."
The community worships at its original mosque, Masjid Al-Hidayah at 450 Olesen Drive, and at Masjid Al-Hilal, which opened in 2007 at 2844 W. Ogden Ave. A school for 65 preschool and kindergarten students meets at the Ogden location, and the congregation rents Fischer Middle School in Aurora for a Saturday religious school for nearly 500 children.
In addition to prayer services and classes, the Islamic Center hosts Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, academic groups, a women's committee and a seniors group, among others, Khadri said. It's often difficult to find time and space to schedule activities without conflicts, which is why a second phase of the facility on 248th will involve a mosque and community center with a large gathering space.
"We host many interfaith events," Khadri said. "So it will be nice to have a multipurpose hall for that."
Having a place to pray on the south side of the city will be convenient for members such as Ashfaq Syed, who lives off 95th Street about a mile from the future construction site.
"A lot of community members are excited about this project because we are very short of parking space and prayer space at Ogden," Syed said.
While plans are in the works, Khadri said leaders have allowed farming to continue at 248th. The congregation held a ceremonial groundbreaking there March 3 in conjunction with a fundraiser, but work will not begin until designs are complete and approved by the city.
Khadri said the hope is to open the education center within the next two years.