Lower Manhattan’s Marriage Bureau building may become new jail tower as Rikers replacement
80 Centre Street; image: Wikimedia Commons.
Last year, Mayor de Blasio announced his support of closing the jail on Rikers Island after protests from activists and public officials over the conditions at the aging complex. In the ensuing months, the focus turned to possible replacements for housing the jail’s 5,000-plus inmates over the next decade. Now, the New York Daily News reports, the city is considering 80 Centre Street for a towering detention center as part of the plan.
Part of multi-story ideal jail layout; Drawing courtesy of Justice in Design at Van Alen Institute.
The plan was revealed at a meeting of community leaders Thursday. The block-long building would be gutted, with the historic nine-story Art Deco structure becoming a base for a new building that could reach 40 stories high. Jail officials have said the complex at 125 White Street known as The Tombs, which was part of an original expansion plan for the city’s existing lower Manhattan jail, is too small for the Rikers job.
Modern jails typically include a day room, rooms for activities, counseling and education classes and outdoor space for recreational activities. The new jail will likely include a medical unit, and there may be separate floors for men and women.
Natalie Grybauskas, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office said, “We are considering two potential options for a facility in Manhattan as part of our plan to close Rikers Island, and are engaging with the community to gather input.”
The 700,000-square-foot interior of 80 Center Street–named the Louis J. Lefkowitz Office Building for the former New York State Attorney General–is currently home to the city’s Marriage Bureau, offices of the Manhattan District Attorney and several other government agencies.
The new jail building might also include affordable housing apartments, which was suggested when The Tombs were expanded in the 1980s. City Councilwoman Margaret Chin said in statement, “Today, we are presented with an opportunity to take the rest of that land back to create more affordable housing, cultural amenities and much needed parking for Chinatown. We must maximize this opportunity by ensuring that all voices are heard as part of this process.”