Source: The Houston Chronicle
On October 21, 2000, The Houston Chronicle reported that "Houston-area Ismaili Muslims, who are under the spiritual leadership of the Aga Khan, are building a $10 million mosque and cultural center in Sugar Land. The 36,000-square-foot Ismaili Jamatkhana, or place of gathering, will be on 11 1/2 acres at 1700 First Colony Blvd. Lt. Gov. Rick Perry and Alaudin Bhanji, president of the Ismaili Council for the United States, attended ground-breaking ceremonies this week. Construction is expected to be completed by December 2001. The center will house worship, educational and cultural activities, in addition to the headquarters of the Ismaili national council, which are now in New York. 'We hope that (the center) will become a symbol of the growing understanding among our neighbors of the real meaning of Islam, as a spiritual and thinking faith,' Bhanji said. The 50,000 Ismailis in the United States are part of the Shia branch of Islam and follow the leadership of the Aga Khan, who is based in France. There are 15 million Ismailis in more than 25 countries. The Aga Khan, one of the world's wealthiest individuals, is considered a progressive Muslim leader who encourages educational, health and social advancement in Islamic nations through his extensive philanthropic programs and networks. The new center, which will be the largest of its kind in the United States, was designed by Montreal-based Ramesh Kholsa and will include both Western and Islamic architectural features."