Construction has halted on a mosque in downtown Rock Hill after members of a local Islamic group said they ran into design and money problems.
The Islamic religion forbids a practice known as "riba" - the paying or receiving of interest. It means the group could not take out financing from a bank and had to raise money on its own.
Completion had been targeted for September on the steel-and-aluminum building on West Main Street, which carried a price tag between $350,000 and $400,000.
Now, members are targeting August 2011 in time for the start of Ramadan. With construction halted, workers boarded up windows to keep out vagrants.
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"We knew there would be some delays," said group leader James "Jumah" Moore. "It's a little more than we thought. We're still at it."
Rock Hill city officials were contacted by a mechanical contractor who is now talking to the group about taking over the job and "value engineering" some remaining work to reduce costs, city spokeswoman Lyn Garris said Thursday.
Group members must renew their building permit after six months, Garris said, and city inspectors will need to verify that the same contractors are planning on finishing the job.
The building code allows for the job to remain open as long as some regular progress is being made.
Architects are redesigning duct work for the HVAC unit, as well as plans for a roof and dome, Moore said. Some building materials are being donated by Islamic contractors in the region.
Construction is about 70 percent complete.
"What can you do?" said group member Nazir Cheema, a retired engineer who lives in Rock Hill. "You have to work with it and hope for the best. It will happen - there's no doubt about that."
The two-story structure will be topped by a dome and slender tower known as a minaret, used in Islamic architecture, from which the faithful are called to prayer.
For the past three years, Muslims from around York County have held prayer services in borrowed spaces - first a house, then a church activity room and finally a strip mall storefront on Cherry Road.
A vacant lot - once home to a grocery store - was picked as the site for a permanent home.
"Can you imagine building a house yourself?," Moore said. "None of us have experience doing this. Sometimes, we have to back up on some things. Whatever problems we run into, we get through them."
Situated just west of Wilson Street near the Pilgrims' Inn, the building will house men's and women's prayer rooms and meeting space.
Similar Islamic centers operate around South Carolina, including Columbia and Charleston, but members say the Rock Hill site would operate independently and is not connected to any larger organization.