City reveals detials on Mott Haven jail plan; met with protest

Local residents protested the new jail proposal in Mott Haven during CB 1’s meeting.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

The tallest building planned for the south Bronx is a – jail, between 24 and 25 stories to be exact. The city released new details and schematics on its plan to replace the Mott Haven NYPD tow pound at 320 Concord Avenue with a massive correctional facility on Thursday, April 25.

With a new address, 745 E. 141st Street, the jail’s current design plan includes a layout of 1, 440 inmate beds with an affordable housing complex connected to the facility that will have 31,000 feet of community space on its ground floor and below ground parking for 575 vehicles, explained the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice deputy director Dana Kaplan.

Preliminary design renderings of the jail include a hypothetical coffee shop in the lobby area as part of an effort to ‘invite civic presence.’

Kaplan also said that there is a way for the jail to “be integrated into the neighborhood in a way that’s not negative.”

Scratched from earlier site designs was the inclusion of an arraignment court that would have been attached to the Mott Haven facility.

Now, inmates will have to travel to East 161st Street courts for all legal appearances according to the city.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and many other Bronx politicians have argued that placing a jail facility next to the Bronx Hall of Justice on 161st Street was the appropriate location for a new jail facility when Rikers Island is expected to close in 2027.

He and others have cited the Lippman Report on criminal justice’s findings that jails should be close to or connected to civic centers, with inmate commute listed as one reason why.

Even though the Mott Haven facility is only approximately two miles way from the civic center, any Bronxite would be able to tell the mayor that those few miles, via the Bruckner Expressway and the Major Deegan can take a half hour at the very minimum during most of the day.

Diaz’ preferred site would come with another problem Kaplan explained. If the city were to build near the current courthouses the facility would have to be much taller since the only available site is narrower than the Mott Haven parcel.

Given that Concourse Village, which is located a few blocks away from Diaz’ site, is almost entirely comprised of 20-plus storied towers, a jail ediface would comform more naturally to that neighborhood’s landscape than it would in a much flatter Mott Haven.

The soon to be open, massive Union Crossing building just a block down at 745 E. 141st Street is the tallest building, at seven-stories, in that part of Mott Haven.

When Kaplan and her team presented the plan to Community Board 1 it was met with resounding opposition; this meeting in particular was literally filled with protestors holding signs against the jail planned for their community.

Besides protest, there isn’t much the opposition can do at this time, though. The plan is currently in a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that began on Monday, March 25.

Once the site’s ULURP is approved, the jail proposal will go before the full City Council for a final vote, a process that is still about seven months off.

That deal is also contingent on the long-awaited closure of the Vernon C. Bain jail barge in Hunts Point.

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