In the News: Residents Concerned About 50-Story Jail Tower

••• “Although the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed away from its controversial proposal to build a new, 40-story jail on top of a historic government office building at 80 Centre Street, it still aims to bring more prison capacity to Lower Manhattan. The revised iteration of this plan is to expand the Manhattan Detention Complex, located at 125 White Street. […] City Hall officials have said that preliminary plans for the expanding the MDC facility include demolishing the existing buildings (which are 15 stories tall) and replacing them with a 50-floor jail that would contain more than triple the space for prisoners within the current facility. This possibility has raised grave reservations among local activists.” —Broadsheet

••• An obituary for William J. Conklin, an architect involved in the initial plan for Battery Park City. —New York Times

••• If Gramercy Park is on your bucket list: “It may not be easy to get into Gramercy Park, but for one single hour on Christmas Eve, the exclusive green space will be open to all—no key required. As it’s done in years past, the Gramercy Park Block Association will host an hour of caroling within the park, allowing the any and everyone access to what’s normally one of the city’s most exclusive enclaves.”  —Curbed

••• “At a ceremony attended by the entire PS 150 student body, PTA co-president Anshal Pruohit [presented] Mayor Bill de Blasio with a thank you card signed by the school community.” Thanks to J. for the photo. —Tribeca Trib



  1. The whole 80 Centre Street option appears to have been a real head fake by the administration in order to lull the whole community into having to accept the Tombs “alternative”. Building at this location is equally disruptive and a blow to the community. This location is just one block from Canal street, an even more congested (and vital) roadway than Worth Street. This entire administration seems to have it out for the minority Chinese community.

  2. “with a 50-floor jail”

    So this new “solution” is even worse than the original proposal.

    Better: Let’s re-evaluate the entire massively expensive and disruptive project, the pros and cons of closing Rikers.

  3. RE: PS 150, What did De Blasio promise Vornado. We all know Vornado didn’t do him “a favor” – they extracted something from him in return, but what? Maybe the contract to build the new jail? I am really waiting for the other shoe to drop on that one.

    Amazing that 60% of Tribeca voters signing the petition to extend our historic districts, De Blasio would not budge on it, did no favors, and even up-zoned Tribeca East to add insult to injury. Now he wants to be the hero of Tribeca because of PS 150?

    Re: Rikers. What insane real estate deal is it on Rikers? None of the important reforms to the criminal justice system require anything to do with buildings or Riker’s itself as a building. The reforms are all about how to manage the administration of justice. Building new jails won’t do anything about those reforms. So what is it? Did Vornado get the right to build luxury housing on Rikers? Just asking.

    • agreed, he is not the ” HERO”. the corrupt mayor definitely got something in return. We all voted for him when we had problems back when IPN had a change of hands. He made soo many promises. We never seen DUM DUM D again. the worst mayor we ever had. There will be a price to pay for 150

  4. Is there evidence that the existence of the jail results in increased private car traffic in the neighborhood? Do so many people visit residents of the Tombs in private vehicles that it is legitimate to say that increasing that population will result in increased traffic problems? Perhaps there is, but I, frankly, have difficulty with the idea. Yes, people are driving in to go to court, and workers to serve the court. But it is not a prison where inmates are kept for long terms. I’m asking in earnest, not trying to make a point on one side or another.

    • The traffic problems are now caused by Corrections buses bringing prisoners to and from Rikers for Court appearances. Either relocation or videoconferencing could eliminate that.

    • Since the Tombs is currently used primarily for court appearances, I doubt it results in substantial private car traffic. It would be different if people are housed there the entire time they are awaiting trial — which can be for a long period of time.

      • The traffic is on multiple levels.

        First, during the construction phase, enough said on that particular issue.

        Second, added worker who will be there. How much do you want to bet some of those working at that facility will use fake placards. More traffic from employees, more crowded streets from the secondary effect of having less legal parking spaces and more illegal parking.

        Third, pedestrian traffic which would make those streets more overcrowded which will also have a secondary effect on more traffic as cars will need to maneuver around them.

        Add to those issues the already crowded area, narrow sidewalks, illegal vendors and street hawkers, a (permanently?) shuttered Park Row, a (temporary) closed Worth Street and probably other things I am forgetting, and it will become apparent that this area already has enough issues without the addition of this facility.

      • The new facility will be 3x larger than the current one with outdoor recreation space and all other areas needed because it is a FULL time inmate facility as well as the Tombs…estimated space will be 1.5 million sq feet vs the 500K it is now.

        They did not make provisions for parking and will demap the street in between the two buildings. They need parking for not only for those in the tombs (which they do not have enough already and cars are on the streets) but for the staff, visitors, transportation,etc. that are needed for the full time inmate facility. They admitted they do not think there is the substructure available to put the parking below ground…which means goal Zero is exactly nothing when it comes to safety in the streets of lower Manhattan.

    • David G Imber wrote:
      “But it is not a prison where inmates are kept for long terms.”

      Actually, it will be, if this plan goes through:

      “The de Blasio administration now appears poised to expand both the prisoner population held there, and the mission of the facility — transforming it into a penal complex for detainees serving long sentences.”

    • Worth a scan:

      “DOI to Council: Closing Rikers Won’t Fix Systemic Woes”

      ‘“What I can say as a matter of fact is that the simple closing of Rikers and the moving to localized facilities in and of itself” would “not have any impact on violence, contraband and the related problems,” [Investigation Commissioner] Peters told the Council Committee on Oversight and Investigations…”Let me be very clear about this: all of the problems that exist on Rikers exist equally, if not more so, at the localized borough facilities,” he said. “It is an important fact not to lose track of, especially with the debate about closing Rikers.”‘

    • JAIL -> PRISON?

      Apparently this will not just be a jail anymore (i.e. a facility holding inmates short-term while awaiting trial/sentencing) but actually a prison (as well), a “a penal complex for detainees serving long sentences”.

  5. I’m so baffled that no one has told De Blasio that his placement of jails in residential neighborhoods will kill any of his national aspirations. Can’t you just see the ads?

  6. All this noise. When you move near the airport you will hear the planes. When you move near the courts there will be police and prisoners. Close Rikers. Period.

    • True for those who moved near the courts. However, these are new issues, that were not on the proverbial table when we moved here:
      – tripling in inmate population
      – massive expansion in size of the facility
      – changes from jail to prison status (long-term penal facility)

      And the following issues should concern the entire city, and even those anywhere concerned with reforming the incarceration system, not just those in affected neighborhoods:

      – Why close Rikers? There is much debate about whether this is necessary, or will even resolve the problems with Rikers, or instead will just relocate those problems.

      – The entire plan is extremely expensive. $20 billion? More? Presumably taxpayer-funded.

      It seems reasonable to me that taxpayers, the city as a whole, concerned citizens, and those in the the effected communities, should have a say in such a plan. There should be further research to determine as accurately as possible whether the goals of reform could be achieved more economically and less disruptively.

  7. All these post are saying what I am thinking.
    The mayor dislikes the Asian community.
    He did diddly squat for ps 150
    He is such a fraud he’s the mayor of fools and the mayor for the criminals.

  8. Let’s look at this more simply… a 50 story building in Chinatown one block from Canal Street… This is the definition of illogical as it would stick out worse than the Citi Tower in Brooklyn. It will devastate the character of the neighborhood, not to mention being extremely unsafe. Where else in the world have they even considered a 50 story jail/prison? The haven’t for obvious reasons. Even the Dept of Corrections stated safety objections to the idea. DeBlasio is a corrupt idiot who doesn’t care how his decisions affect the City as long as he keeps getting paid.

    • I don’t know how many stories the high-rise hotel on the corner of Canal and Bowery is, but it is a hotel, the definition of transient, mobile residence.

      To the best of my knowledge it did not destroy Chinatown or change traffic loads appreciably.