Former HP jail secured as it awaits demolition

Vandals were succsessful in defacing the shuttered Spofford jail complex by entering unsecured holes in its fencing.
Photo courtesy of Senator Jeff Klein’s Office

The future site of a major mixed-use development in Hunts Point has been secured by the city after numerous community complaints as it awaits demolition.

Measures have been taken by the city to clean up and secure the defunct Spofford Detention Center in Hunts Point in response to criticisms about an uptick in trespassing and vandalism.

The notorious detention center, also known as Bridges Juvenile Center, was shuttered in 2011 following years of complaints and protests from community leaders over treatment of patients, rodent infestations and other issues.

Vandalism – most notably graffiti – and squatters had become prolific at the site, according to Councilman Rafael Salamanca and Senator Jeff Klein, who worked with Community Board 2 to get the facility renovated.

The fence lining the Spofford was littered with holes, a roll-down gate was left unlocked and a door to the complex were left open, allowing trespassers, loiterers and squatters full access to the site, according to the officials.

“The community board received multiple complaints from residents and is pleased with the efforts our local elected officials have made to address these complaints,” said CB 2 chairman Roberto Crespo.

In late July representatives from the NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Administration for Children’s Services, NYC Department of Sanitation and the NYPD began efforts to improve the facility and the surrounding area.

Police engaged in several sweeps and arrested eight trespassers on site.

City employees patched up the fence holes, fixed the gate and once again secured the doors.

Overgrown brush and litter on the property were also removed.

A Graffiti-Free NYC truck power-washed the graffiti from the walls of the buildings.

“Following a number of community complaints over the past month about vandals breaking into the former jail complex, our offices worked collectively to ensure the city was made aware,” Klein said. “I’m pleased that in the past week the city cleaned up and took measures to secure the facility.”

The property is still owned by ACS, which Salamanca’s chief of staff Ryan Monell said the councilman and senator wanted to see changed sooner rather than later.

“We requested they expedite the process to get the building construction moving forward fro the new development,” Monell said.

The planned five-building, 740-unit mixed use project will include affordable housing units, as well as retail, community and light industrial space.

The project is being developed by Gilbane Development Company, Hudson Company and Mutual Housing of New York.

As of right now, the property is still owned by the ACS, said EDC spokeswoman Brooke Goren.

“The project is set to go through ULURP this fall and we anticipate that demolition of the facility will begin early next year,” Goren said.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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