The city is taking another stab at redesigning the shuttered Brooklyn House of Detention in its ongoing effort to expand the jail and install retail space in the Atlantic Avenue facility.
The Department of Design and Construction will pay a developer $240 million to enlarge the currently closed, 11-story, 759-inmate prison into one that holds 1,469 troubled souls, plus boasts ground-floor retail on bustling Atlantic Avenue.
The city has long said that enlarging the pokey is necessary because its Rikers Island penal colony is crumbling, and the Department of Correction wants inmates closer to Downtown Brooklyn courts.
But neighborhood groups have been critical of all plans to expand the slammer, which is between Boerum Place and Smith Street and has been closed since 2003.
The latest request for proposals is a far cry from the city’s effort last year, when it asked developers to integrate residential housing and retail into the complex.
Such a request brought little interest — though Common Ground Council, Hamlin Ventures and Time Equities created a fanciful idea that included luxury housing and open space in a glass-walled doughnut around the jail.
That proposal went nowhere because it called for demolishing the existing jail and replacing it with a smaller detention center — a vision that doesn’t mesh with the city plan for expanding the jail, said Department of Correction spokesperson Steven Morello.
Another contentious proposal called for a public middle school on the premises. That idea was scotched within minutes after it was floated at a January meeting.
Developers interested in expanding the jail should submit proposals to the Department of Correction by April 11.
©2008 Community News Group
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