Boerum Hill

City to host first community hearing on Brooklyn jail Thursday night

April 11, 2019 Noah Goldberg
An unofficial rendering of the proposed Boerum Hill jail designed by the Cobble Hill Association. Rendering courtesy of CHA

The city will host its first community hearing Thursday night concerning the renovation of the Brooklyn Detention Complex, a project that will double the size of Boerum Hill’s city jail.

The hearing is the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), a seven-month process to approve zoning changes necessary to move forward with the expansion. It could also be the community’s most effective opportunity to change or even halt the plans.

The hearing will be held at 5 p.m. in the auditorium at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. The auditorium has 1350 seats, which organizers expect to quickly fill. It will last four hours.

Representatives of the Department of Corrections (DOC), the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services — the agencies that requested that zoning changes — will be in attendance. 

The Brooklyn Detention Complex’s expansion is part of the move to close the jail complex at Rikers Island by 2028 and establish a borough-based jail system.

The current plan proposed by the city includes replacing the Brooklyn House of Detention, a 815-bed jail located on Atlantic Avenue, with a 1.1-million-square-foot facility that has room for 1,437 beds. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
The current plan proposed by the city includes replacing the Brooklyn House of Detention, a 815-bed jail located on Atlantic Avenue, with a 1.1-million-square-foot facility that has room for 1,437 beds. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

 

The city will also build jails in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx to accommodate the city’s detainees. One of the main goals, according to MOCJ, is to keep people who are incarcerated in their communities near their homes and close to courts.

Related: Expanding Brooklyn’s city jail: Everything you need to know

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The current Brooklyn Detention Center, located at 275 Atlantic Ave., was built in 1956. It’s an 11-story, 170-foot-tall building that has 815 beds.

The city’s plan is to more than double the size of the Brooklyn jail to a maximum of 395 feet. Dana Kaplan, Deputy Director of MOCJ, said that the height could still be reduced during ULURP.

The new building will have 1,437 beds and around 290 parking spaces below ground for Department of Corrections staff.

The city filed its ULURP action to raise the maximum height of the zoned area, as well as to provide the community facilities and parking. Currently, the neighborhood is only zoned for buildings 125-feet-tall.

Unveiled in the city’s plan is 30,000 square feet of retail and “community facilities” in the lobby of the Brooklyn jail.

Thursday’s meeting is the first that will be open to the public, but before the ULURP was filed, neighborhood groups met with criminal justice reform groups and city agencies to discuss the plans.

After Thursday’s meeting, Community Board 2 will consider the proposal and make its determination at its May 8 general meeting.

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