Mayor Nixes High-Rise Chinatown Jail at 80 Centre Street
The proposal for a high-rise jail in Chinatown ended in major defeat yesterday. Mayor de Blasio threw in the towel, and is no longer considering the proposed 430-foot prison complex at 80 Centre Street.
Nixing this site is owed largely to purported problems relocating the main occupant here, the city’s marriage bureau. The Mayor’s press team pushed out the following statement yesterday afternoon:
It’s crucial that we close Rikers Island and transition to a smaller, safer borough-based jail system as quickly as possible. 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. As we met with the community, it became clear that the original site we considered better addressed their needs without the costly challenges created by using 80 Centre, and we are reverting our site selection to the Manhattan Detention Complex.
So, this administration setback means that the city is revisiting the Manhattan Detention Complex, nicknamed The Tombs. That location at 125 White Street was previously deemed too small, but officials are now contemplating demolition and building a larger facility.
As reported, Mayor de Blasio remains committed to closing Rikers Island and relocating operations to a decentralized “community-based” jail system over the next decade. His so-called “roadmap to closing Rikers” will see new jail facilities throughout the five boroughs.
From its inception, though, the glassy proposal for 80 Centre Street received vociferous backlash from the Chinatown community. Activists rallied and protested at length.
However, the architect of much of the opposition, local Karlin Chan, tells us that it’s premature to celebrate anything.
“The fight is not over,” Chan quipped. “Rikers does not need to be closed, as the city can achieve its prison reform goals by policy change and building new facilities on Rikers which is currently at half capacity. The mainstream media has kept CC Intro-940 out of news but it calls for forming a 10-person commission to study the feasibility of renovating Rikers island over closing it.”