The city wants to open a new middle school — in jail.
Developers responded so weakly to a city invitation for ideas for retail and residential use at the soon-to-reopen Brooklyn House of Detention that the city is now considering putting a middle school in the space.
For months, the city has said it plans to reopen — and double the capacity of — the 11-story, 750-inmate Big House on Atlantic Avenue between Smith Street and Boerum Place.
But last year, when the city solicited bids for ground-floor shops in the infamous holding pen, retailers showed only lukewarm interest.
Besides the weak response from retailers, only one developer submitted a bid to build a residential tower adjacent to the soon-to-reopen jail.
As a result, Corrections Commissioner Martin Horn told a group of local pols and community activists at a Jan. 2 meeting that he is considering housing a new middle school in the jail.
Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) strongly supported the idea, according to people who attended the meeting at Borough Hall.
Yassky’s support for a jailhouse middle school follows his opposition to a plan by DUMBO developer David Walentas to include a middle school in his proposed Dock Street apartment tower because part of that building might block some views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
“David’s position has always been that we need a new middle school in the general Downtown area,” said Sam Rockwell, Yassky’s spokesman, adding that the councilman would certainly consider the school-in-a-jail concept.
“It’s bizarre,” said one participant in the meeting. “Retailers don’t want to be in the building, yet Yassky would put our kids there?”
Tale of the tape
|Institution||House of Detention||Schoolhouse|
|Who’s inside||Convicted criminals, whether they like it or not||Children, age 11–14, whether they like it or not|
|Financing||Taxpayer dollars||Taxpayer dollars|
|Terms||While awaiting court dates||While awaiting high school|
|Who to watch for||Warden, guy with shiv||Principal, bullies|
|Favorite lunch||Sloppy Joe||Sloppy Joe|
|What you learn on the inside||Crime doesn’t pay, who your friends are, and that you should never try to break out on a rainy day using a gun made out of a bar of soap.||Reading, writing, how to pop a pimple, and that your parents are right when they call it “the awkward years.”|