This property at 5005 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights is set to eventually become the home of a new community center and mosque for the American Islamic Community Center.

This property at 5005 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights is set to eventually become the home of a new community center and mosque for the American Islamic Community Center.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

15 Mile Road mosque project still headed for construction, city says

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 12, 2022


STERLING HEIGHTS — An official groundbreaking ceremony for the American Islamic Community Center took place in August 2020, and the goal has been to build an estimated 20,000-square-foot facility to be a community center and mosque in Sterling Heights.

But the property, located at 5005 15 Mile Road, between Ryan and Mound roads, was still barren as of the end of September. And in recent months, people have been wondering what’s going on with the project.

At a July 19 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, Councilwoman Maria Schmidt said residents had contacted her complaining about the land’s condition.

“It is a moonscape of weeds, and they put up a green cloth on the fence,” Schmidt said. “However, the cloth is down and the fence is down, so I think that needs to be addressed with them.”

City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the city met with the AICC in July and aired the city’s concerns over property maintenance violations. Vanderpool said the group said those issues would be resolved shortly.

“If they do not, you know, we have other recourse we can pursue,” Vanderpool said. “But I’m confident they’re going to get the site cleaned up. They assured us they would, including the fabric that is in disrepair and so on.”

Vanderpool also said that the AICC has been moving ahead with the project and that the plans “have been almost entirely approved on our end.” He added that the AICC hopes to have “a good part of the construction underway by winter,” with more progress to come in 2023.

“But a lot of these projects are dependent on financing and fundraising,” he said. “In the cases of houses of worship, and certainly in this climate, we’re seeing a significant number of delays with financing and rate increases and the like. But not to speak for them, but I know they have a number of challenges keeping it on schedule.”

According to an emailed statement Sept. 23 from Sterling Heights City Development Director Jason Castor, recent talks with the AICC’s general contractor indicate that the site’s development is still proceeding.

“As with all properties under construction, we have been in regular contact with the AICC’s general contractors to ensure the development site is being maintained,” Castor said.

The AICC is currently located on Dequindre Road in Madison Heights. Several years ago, the organization endured some obstacles in its quest for clearance to build a new community center and mosque.

The AICC originally presented its community center proposal to the Sterling Heights Planning Commission in 2015. But some residents protested, and the Planning Commission rejected the proposal, citing its size and supposed nonconformity to the local residential area.

The AICC then sued Sterling Heights in 2016 and asserted its rights under the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The U.S. Justice Department separately sued the city later that year, concerning the same incident.

In 2017, the AICC and the city settled the lawsuit, and Sterling Heights gave the AICC an undisclosed amount of money while letting it build there.

An AICC representative told the Sentry Sept. 28 that “things are still moving, so we are on track — so far, so good.” He added that the 15 Mile site could be seeing activity “shortly next month, I think.” He declined to comment on the condition of the property.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2489. Learn more about the American Islamic Community Center by visiting