Housing, jobs to replace Spofford Detention Center

Housing, jobs to replace Spofford Detention Center
Outside of former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

After years of wondering what would happen to the old Spofford Juvenile Detention Center property, the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced on Thursday, October 27 the property’s fate.

The Peninsula, a campus which will include 740 units of affordable housing, will replace the former detention center.

According to EDC press release, The Peninsula will also include 52,000 square feet of open recreational space, 21,000 square feet of ground floor retail and commercial space, 48,000 square feet of community facility space and 49,000 square feet of light industrial space.

In addition, the project is expected to create 177 permanent jobs and 1,600 temporary construction jobs.

“With over 700 affordable apartments, space for community organizations and light manufacturing space, The Peninsula will erase the memory of Spofford and replace it with homes and job opportunities that benefit the people of the south Bronx,” said EDC president Maria Torres-Springer.

Spofford Detention Center, also known as Bridges Juvenile Center, had become a Hunts Point eyesore.

There were multiple reports of child abuse, broken air conditioners, and rodent infestation within the facility when it was in operation.

Activists, elected officials and community members eventually forced the center to close in 2011. It had been open for more than 50 years.

In June of 2015 the EDC began fielding suggestions for the space, asking interested developers to pitch their ideas by October of that same year.

Gilbane Development Company, Hudson Companies and Mutual Housing Association of New York – also know as MHANY – put together a joint submission which EDC chose.

Councilman Rafael Salamanca, former district manager for Community Board 2, said he hopes to secure spots for many Hunts Point residents.

Salamanca said that the residents in Hunts Point who had to suffer through having Spofford Juvenile Center “in their backyard” should be the ones gaining the benefit of the new housing.

Officials from Mothers on the Move and The Point Community Development Corporation – two organizations who spearheaded the Spofford closing – expressed pleasure with The Peninsula project.

“Closing the dark chapter of Spofford Detention Center and creating a new future for the residents of Hunts Point is more than a symbolic act – it is an affirmative step toward a clear and meaningful improvement in the quality of life for our community,” said Maria Torres, president of The Point CDC.

“We salute our allies in that long struggle and remind all those who have worked so hard to make this day possible that we still have much work to do,” said Mothers on the Move president Wanda Salaman.

The Peninsula will consist of five building and will be built in three phrases which are projected to be completed by 2024.

Some of the businesses that plan to open at the Peninsula are Forno Bakery, Soul Snacks, Bascom Catering, Mass Ideation, Hunts Point Brewing Company, and Lightbox NY film studio.

In addition there will be an 18,000 square foot health and wellness center operated by Urban Health Plan and a 15,000 square foot space for a supermarket.

The Peninsula will also include a Head Start facility and a playground.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchri[email protected]cnglocal.com.

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