NYC nixes plan for massive new jail

The city plans to return to its earlier plan to expand its existing lower Manhattan jail, the Manhattan Detention Complex


By Reuven Blau
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — The city’s controversial plan to pile a massive new jail facility atop an existing lower Manhattan building has officially been nixed, the Daily News has learned.

City officials told The News on Wednesday that the 80 Centre. St. deal has been dropped — mainly over difficulties relocating all the existing tenants in the building, which houses state offices and is used as the city’s marriage license bureau.

The city plans to return to its earlier plan to expand its existing lower Manhattan jail, the Manhattan Detention Complex, also known as The Tombs. That complex on 125 White St. was deemed too small — but officials are now contemplating tearing it down and building a larger facility.

“We found that the challenges associated with relocating various offices at 80 Centre Street would make siting a jail there far more complicated and more costly than we originally anticipated,” said mayoral spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas. “As we met with the community, it became clear that the original site we considered better addressed their needs without the costly challenges created by using 80 Centre.”

Mayor de Blasio’s administration had pinpointed 80 Centre St. as the perfect location for a high-rise detention center as part of a sweeping plan to close Rikers Island.

The block-long building adjacent to Foley Square was going to be totally gutted as part of the overhaul.

The historic nine-story art-deco structure was going to serve as a base for a much bigger building that could reach 40 stories.

But the proposal almost immediately got community push back — even with the promise of possible affordable housing apartments being part of the deal.

Lower Manhattan lawmakers and community leaders argued a massive new jail at the proposed site would create a shadow over Columbus Park. T

On Wednesday, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, hailed the city’s new plan.

“The Administration’s proposal to reconsider siting the Manhattan Detention Complex at 125 White Street is a sign that the community’s concerns and input about the future of this facility matter,” she said in a statement.

“By focusing the conversation on this existing detention site, we can ensure that this facility remains near the courts, and Columbus Park will no longer be placed under the shadow of a proposed 40-story jail at 80 Centre Street,” she added.

The rush for new jails is part of De Blasio’s plan to shut down the violence plagued Rikers Island complex, which holds the city’s largest inmate population.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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