CITY, CONTRACTORS GET READY TO BEGIN DEMOLITION AT BROOKLYN DETENTION COMPLEX
By Kirstyn Brendlen
February 21, 2022
Construction workers are set to begin work tearing down the Brooklyn Detention Complex in the borough’s Downtown, which comes as the latest step in the the long-term plan to close Rikers Island.
North Star, the demolition company contracted to tear down the jail and build an interim secure entry point known as a “sally port,” received their notice to proceed and began mobilizing at the 275 Atlantic Ave. lot late last year, and are currently acquiring the necessary permits and planning out the work to be done before the deconstruction begins in earnest in the spring, city representatives said at Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee meeting on Feb. 16.
The closure of the empty 11-story jail is part of then-Mayor de Blasio’s 2017 plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with four new “borough-based” jails in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. Those new facilities, with a total capacity of just over 3,000 detainees — far less than the city’s current capacity of around 11,000 — are slated to open in 2027, as Rikers closes its doors.
The Brooklyn Detention Complex closed in late 2020, nearly 65 years after it opened. Earlier that year, the 815-bed facility held just over 300 male detainees, according to The City.
Currently, the new jail is slated to have space 886 beds in a 295-foot tall building. Per the Points of Agreement negotiated with the New York City Council in 2019, the building will include 30,000 square feet of “community space” and a number of therapeutic units. CB2 rejected the plan in the summer of 2019, but their vote is purely advisory.
In December, the city hired Lucien Allen as the project’s community construction liaison, and has been heading out to residences and businesses in the neighborhood — primarily on Atlantic Avenue between Hoyt to Court streets, so far — letting them know that construction will begin soon and handing out his contact information, he said.
Allen will remain available to the community throughout the construction process, said Lauren Micir, an engineer at consulting firm AECOM who is working on the project. He will have an office nearby and will be available by phone and email to any Brooklynite with questions or concerns about construction.
North Star is expected to start constructing the temporary sally port and officer booth next month, Micir said, and will complete that work by June. The interim port, also called a “swing space,” will allow officers to safely bring detainees to and from the Kings County Criminal Court across the street. The current sally port is located at the jail, and detainees are brought to the courthouse via a tunnel beneath state street —but that tunnel will be inaccessible for the next few years as the new jail is built.