City scraps controversial plan for a new 40-story jail on top of the Manhattan marriage bureau
80 Centre Street via Wiki Commons
On Wednesday, city officials announced that plans to build a 40-floor high-rise detention center at 80 Centre Street will not be moving forward, reports the Daily News. The site had been proposed earlier this year as part of a plan to close the jail at Rikers Island and relocate the inmate population to four local jails spread throughout the boroughs. The de Blasio administration cited logistical challenges associated with moving the current tenants, which include the Manhattan Marriage Bureau and offices of the Manhattan District Attorney, as reason for the decision.
“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 in a statement. Public outcry against the proposal also contributed to its demise. Lower Manhattan lawmakers, community leaders, and local residents argued that the massive new jail would create a shadow over nearby Columbus Park.
Officials don’t expect this change to affect the timeline for closing Rikers Island as planned. They are now refocusing their attention on 125 White Street, where the existing Manhattan Detention Complex — better known as the Tombs — is located. Initially, the site was thought to be too small for the Rikers job but officials are now considering the option of replacing the existing building with a larger one. It would need to be expanded from its current capacity of 900 to house the estimated 1,500 detainees that will be moved there once Rikers Island is shuttered.
City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, showed her support for the new direction and the city’s commitment to keeping the community’s needs at the forefront. “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,” Chin added.