Spofford Juvenile Center

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Features, History

Past Prisons: Inside the new lives of 7 former NYC jails

By Penelope Bareau, Mon, April 10, 2017

A 1938 photo showing the Women’s House of Detention south of the Jefferson Market Courthouse, via NYPL

The past week has been full of news about Rikers Island and Mayor de Blasio’s announcement that the notorious prison will be closed and replaced with smaller facilities throughout the boroughs. Ideas for re-use of its 413 acres have included commercial, residential and mixed-use properties; academic centers; sports and recreation facilities; a convention center; or an expansion of nearby LaGuardia airport. And while anything final is estimated to be a decade away, this isn’t the first prison in NYC to be adaptively reused. From a health spa to a production studio to a housing development, 6sqft explores the new lives of seven past prisons.

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affordable housing, Architecture, Bronx, New Developments

New York City Economic Development Corporation, The Peninsula Bronx, Spofford Juvenile Center, Hunts Point, Bronx affordable housing, WXY Architecture + Design, LightBox-NY, Il Forno Bakery, Hunts Point Brewery

A few months ago, 6sqft shared the first rendering of the Peninsula, a $300 million mixed-use complex slated to replace the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. We learned that the five-acre site will hold 740 affordable apartments, open and recreational areas, light industrial space, community facilities like health care providers and artist workspace, and retail/commercial space. In addition to new conceptual renderings from WXY Architecture + Urban Design, the development team has now revealed details on who the borough-based commercial tenants will be, and they include Hunts Point Brewing Company, Il Forno Bakery, and LightBox-NY film studio.

More details and renderings

affordable housing, Architecture, Bronx, New Developments

Rendering courtesy of WXY Architecture + Urban Design

The Spofford Juvenile Detention Center (later renamed Bridges Juvenile Center) was built in 1957 in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, quickly gaining a reputation for its poor conditions–the Daily News once described it as “vermin-infested” and said it “held about 100 youth in dark cells with no air conditioning.” It was closed in 2011, at which time urban revitalization consultant Majora Carter began her quest to have the site transformed into a mixed-use housing complex. The city eventually stepped in, and today officials announced plans for the Peninsula, an affordable housing development that will rise on the five-acre site and offer 740 apartments, 52,000 square feet of open and recreational space, 49,000 square feet of light industrial space, 48,000 square feet for community facilities like health care providers, 21,000 square feet of retail, and 15,000 square feet of artist space, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Find out more right this way

Bronx, New Developments, People

Maksym Rokhmaniiko, Hunts Point Revival, AutoDesk, Spofford Juvenile Center, Majora Carter

Tribeca has adaptively reused its former manufacturing lofts; Gowanus its factories; and Long Island City its bakeries. Now, Hunts Point might be added to the adaptive reuse list for its conversion of a former jail.

Urban revitalization strategist and public radio host Majora Carter is aiming to transform the Spofford Juvenile Center into a combination of mixed-income housing, open space, and economic development, a formula she feels would appeal to the neighborhood.

More on Carter’s vision and the transformative project