The NYC Department of Design and Construction has selected four teams of designers and builders to receive design-build contracts to prepare the sites where new borough-based jail facilities will be constructed, including at the Brooklyn Detention Complex site at 275 Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill.
In Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, the design-build teams will dismantle existing facilities on the sites and construct temporary “swing spaces” to facilitate NYC Department of Correction’s transfers for court appearances during construction.
The firm selected for the Brooklyn “dismantle/swing space” is NorthStar Contracting Group, which has received a $59.7 million contract. NorthStar, a worldwide company whose New York offices are in Lower Manhattan, specializes in demolishing private and government facilities (such as the Brooklyn jail), lead and asbestos abatement, remediating environmental problems, disaster recovery and cleanup services, and decommissioning nuclear plants.
The existing 815-bed Brooklyn Detention Complex, built in the 1950s, was closed, reopened and remodeled several times. According to a 2019 article in the Eagle, it will be replaced with a new building about twice as high as the current one, with 1,437 beds. The first floor will have a visitors’ entrance on Boerum Place and retail and community ground-level space on Atlantic Avenue.
The current building, according to the Eagle article, has an underground tunnel linking the jail with the Criminal Court building on Schermerhorn Street, by which prisoners can be transferred. The tunnel will be incorporated into the new facility, although it may be renovated. The facility will also include 292 underground parking spaces.
Construction work is already under way at the Queens site, where the new structure is being built on the west side of a parking lot on Union Turnpike. The Brooklyn jail was closed in 2020 in preparation for demolition.
“New York City is committed to forging a safer, better, more humane jail system, and that starts with building 21st century facilities,” said First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan. “These expert teams will design and build jails that reflect our city’s strength and compassion, and I look forward to celebrating fast progress toward completing each Borough-Based jail in the years to come.”
“The Borough-Based Jails Program is fully funded and remains on track to provide the facilities that will be needed to enable the closure of Rikers Island,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Acting Commissioner Thomas Foley. “The selection of these design-build teams was a rigorous process based not just on price but on experience, vision and the ability of the teams to deliver a quality project on time and on budget.”
“This is another important step in New York City’s and DOC’s march away from mass incarceration and towards a more community-driven and neighborhood friendly correction system. Our new jails are being designed to optimize community and family interaction and rehabilitative programming, along with security and safety for staff and incarcerated people,” said Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.
The Department of Design and Construction anticipates that the four contracts for dismantling structures in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, and for site preparation in the Bronx, will be registered by the end of 2021, with work starting in the first quarter of 2022. The contract for the Queens trunk water main installation has already been registered and work is also expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
DDC is working with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) and the NYC Department of Correction (DOC) to implement the city’s plan to build four smaller, safer and fairer borough-based jail facilities and to close the jails on Rikers Island.
For years, many residents of nearby Brownstone areas lobbied for the closure of the Atlantic Avenue facility in Brooklyn. They pointed out that the surrounding area, a deteriorating neighborhood in the 1950s, has drastically changed since then.