Chinatown Fights Back Against Mayor’s ‘Community-Based’ Jail Plan

Posted on: August 20th, 2018 at 5:03 am by

Photo: City of New York

Last Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio announced the draft plan to replace the Rikers Island prison system over the next decade. As part of its so-called “roadmap to closing Rikers,” the city envisions glitzy new jail facilities in four of the five boroughs. Including one situated in downtown Manhattan, on the border of Chinatown.

In a reversal from prior plans to expand the Tombs, the de Blasio administration is instead eyeing 80 Centre Street – current home of the city’s marriage bureau – as the prime spot for a high-rise detention center. (The city worked in collaboration with the Fortune Society.) This proposed detention center would carry roughly 1,500 beds for the incarcerated, plus a day room, activity room, counseling services, and potentially outdoor space. But since this is New York City, the 430-foot-high building will pull double duty as potential offices for Manhattan DA’s office “programming and recreational space.”

“I would say to the communities, this isn’t just about supplanting what we currently have on Rikers,” Fortune Society SVP Stanley Richards told Gothamist, noting that the four new jails will have smaller, well-lit housing areas with access to services and recreation. “We are fundamentally changing the way detention happens…Those principles require space.”

As before, many Chinatown residents are vehemently against the plan. There is a petition making the rounds that’s gained some traction in recent days; more than 400 signatures were collected so far.

We the undersigned oppose the building of a new MDC correctional center jail complex at 80 Centre st as part of the overall plan to close Rikers island.

Our neighborhood roads are congested enough with traffic negotiating routes between the Manhattan & Brooklyn bridges and the Holland & Brooklyn Battery tunnels.  In addition, this project would undoubtedly exacerbate air, noise & environmental issues we already endure.  Residents of Chinatown, Tribeca, Little Italy, Soho, BPC, FiDi & The LES should not be made to suffer more.

We support the call for real prison reform but feel a jail in residential areas is not the best way to approach it.

Please hear our concern and rethink the options.

Thank you

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Margaret Chin is speaking up, urging City Hall to plan a town hall that provides vital information and address community concerns.

“It’s crucial that the Administration participate in a robust community engagement process, which must begin with full transparency about the proposal to move the Manhattan Detention Center from its current location to 80 Center Street,” Chin said in a statement Friday.

Recent Stories

Levain Bakery to Open First Downtown Location on Lafayette Street Next Week

In a first, Levain Bakery is headed downtown. News that we first reported in March 2019. Now, more than a year after breaking the news, the sweets shops confirms that next Wednesday (February 26) is the opening date at 340 Lafayette Street (at Bleecker Street). Teaser signage in the window had promised this debut as […]

Hoy Wong Restaurant Fades After 42 Years on Mott Street

A Chinatown stalwart is now retired. The Hoy Wong restaurant at 81 Mott Street closed down last weekend. A handwritten sign on the front door explains that the lease was up, and ownership elected to retire instead of renew. The eatery spent 42 years in the neighborhood and a popular pit-stop for locals and tourists. […]

Scarr’s Pizza is Planning a Second Location at a Midtown Food Hall

Out of nowhere, news that Scarr’s Pizza is expanding to include a second city location this spring. Eater had the scoop yesterday, citing the website of the architecture firm Le Whit, which lists the pizzeria as client. The new location is similarly small – 250 square-feet, but “reiterating the restaurant’s current branding” with its “retro […]

Talkin’ ’bout My Generation: Memories of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East

While working on our story about the new “Bill Graham and The Rock & Roll Revolution” exhibit at the New-York Historical Society, this reporter started collecting personal stories and memories of Graham’s legendary music venue, the Fillmore East. Located on Second Avenue and East 6th Street, the building began life in 1926 as The Commodore, […]

Chatham Square Library Closed for ‘Building Repairs’ Until Next Month

The Chatham Square Library is currently down for maintenance. The so-called “building repairs and improvements” are scheduled to last through February 29, with the library itself to reopen the following Monday (March 2). Until then, borrowers can return books and periodicals to the Seward Park branch just down East Broadway. The Chatham Square branch of […]