The Brooklyn House of Detention is worth more to the city dead than alive, according to Comptroller Bill Thompson, who urged Mayor Bloomberg on Thursday to put the old Atlantic Avenue jail up for sale rather than reopen it.
Thompson, who made a similar plea in 2005, says the property in Downtown Brooklyn would generate much-needed tax revenue for the city’s coffers — if the city would drop its plan to expand and reopen the prison with ground floor retail.
He did not give a dollar figure, however.
In his letter to the mayor on Thursday, Thompson also said an active jail could hurt local business — a concept that is hardly a new one to residents of Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill.
“The Brooklyn House of Detention is centrally located within Downtown Brooklyn’s commercial hub and [the Department of Correction’s] intention to re-open and greatly expand the use of this facility would therefore directly impact the revitalization of the surrounding area.”
Corrections officials disagreed, saying the jail is an “irreplaceable building [that] is physically connected to Brooklyn’s main criminal courthouse.”
“[To sell it] would jeopardize the city’s long-term public safety,” said agency spokesman Steve Morello.
The city says it needs to reopen — and double the capacity of — the jail to reduce the number of prisoners in its crumbling Rikers Island facility and to put Brooklyn defendants closer to Downtown courts and their families.