One of the unofficial landmarks you pass as you travel on the Van Wyck Expressway in Jamaica is the former ID Precision Watch Case and Precision Components Co. building.
The structure looked more like a New York World’s Fair pavilion, with its art deco porthole windows, glass block window walls and curved arch flowing lines, than the home of a manufacturing plant for watch cases and gear mechanisms.
The building was so large it had two mailing addresses, and ID Precision employed thousands and rented out space to other watch companies. Its claim to fame in the 1950s was its four-foot neon clock made by the Modern Clock Advertising Co., installed as a public service to help keep passing travelers from missing their flights at Idlewild Airport, now JFK. Thousands of commuters relied on it too.
In 1965 the company incorporated in Alabama and started moving operations south, renting the building out to all kinds of light manufacturing companies. But eventually it fell into disrepair and vandalism. In 1989 the building was rescued by The Grand Ayatollah Al-Khoei, who transformed it into The Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center for charitable and educational functions. It also contains a mosque.
On New Years Day 2012 a frustrated unemployed truck driver allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the building — reportedly because he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom. He was quickly arrested and charged with a hate crime.
The necessary repairs were made, and members continue to worship here and do good works in the community.