Press Releases

NYCEDC and NYC Department of Correction Seek Ideas for Development Site in Downtown Brooklyn

Site to Become Mixed-Use Development and State-of-the-Art Correction Facility.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Correction (DOC) issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the redevelopment of the Brooklyn House of Detention site in Downtown Brooklyn. The RFEI seeks a developer or development team to construct a mix of commercial and residential space on Boerum Place and Smith Street, along either side of the existing detention center. Expressions of interest must also provide ground-floor retail along Boerum Place, Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street. Surrounding the detention center with a mix of uses and ground-floor retail will activate the streetscape while ensuring the design and uses are in keeping with the transformation of the surrounding neighborhood. The selected developer will also renovate and expand the existing detention facility for DOC use. The expansion will include an additional 22,000 square feet of below grade parking for DOC and other agencies.

“The vitality and vibrancy that has drawn thousands of new residents and visitors to Downtown Brooklyn will be further strengthened by development at the Brooklyn House of Detention site,” said NYCEDC President Robert C. Lieber. “The commercial and residential development will expand the street-level retail south on Boerum Place and will enhance the pedestrian experience. We look forward to receiving innovative responses for this unique development opportunity.”

“The new Brooklyn jail is part of a plan that is better for public safety, better for criminal justice and better for the people in our jails,” said DOC Commissioner Martin F. Horn said. “We will reduce the overall capacity of the City's jails and reduce the inmate capacity of Rikers Island, but we will also be providing safer, more modern jail space, and bringing the people in our custody closer to their families and the communities they come from. This, in turn, will improve their chances of staying out of jail once they are discharged. And we are eager to see developer proposals for how we can integrate the new and expanded Brooklyn House of Detention into its vibrant, growing neighborhood by including mixed uses on the site.”

The site is the full block bounded by Atlantic Avenue and Boerum Place and State and Smith Streets. The RFEI calls for development of up to 238,500 square feet of residential and commercial development, including 27,000 square feet of street level retail on Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Place and Smith Street. Respondents to the RFEI are asked to propose a development program only for the commercial, residential and retail components of the project. The RFEI contains DOC site expansion and design criteria, but no construction details for these plans need be submitted at this time. The site will be divided into two or more tax lots. It is anticipated that the developer will ultimately obtain ownership of the development parcels and retail condominium and the City will retain ownership of the detention center, including the expansion.

“I have always felt that with creative planning, this site can serve the needs of DOC while also meshing with the character of this thriving area,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “With innovative additions of hotel rooms, apartments with harbor views, and street level retail space, this location would cease to be a gap on Atlantic Avenue, and actively contribute to the larger goal of knitting together surrounding neighborhoods.”

The Request for Expressions of Interest is intended to solicit ideas from the development community for the site that will assist in creating a meaningful Request for Proposals (RFP) in the future. However, NYCEDC and DOC reserve the right to designate a developer on the basis of the responses to the RFEI. A subsequent RFP may be issued only to respondents to the RFEI, so all interested parties are encouraged to respond and include conceptual designs.

The Brooklyn House of Detention was built in 1957 and features some of the most secure jail cells in the City. It was closed in 2003 with the intention of reopening in the future. DOC currently uses the facility’s secure bus entrance on Smith Street and underground tunnel to transfer inmates to the nearby courthouse. These are required to remain accessible to DOC during construction.

Reopening the facility comes as DOC proposes to close parts of Rikers Island. Several housing units on Rikers Island were intended to be temporary when they were built in the 1980's and are in dilapidated condition. Although Rikers Island holds about 80 percent of the city's jail population, it is not an ideal location for jails that hold thousands of people waiting for their cases to be resolved. More than 1,500 inmates are bused every day from Rikers Island to courts all around the City, including Brooklyn. More than 1,200 visitors go to Rikers Island every day--often traveling four hours round trip--to visit inmates there. New jail space throughout the City will help eliminate these problems.

As New York City’s third largest central business district, Downtown Brooklyn is home to a unique combination of businesses, academic institutions and government offices. Its commercial core is surrounded by some of the City’s finest brownstone neighborhoods, including Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Fort Greene. The development site is three blocks from the Borough Hall subway station and the 2, 3, 4, 5 and R trains, and three blocks from the Jay Street Station and the A, C, and F trains. It is also well-served by several bus lines, as well as the Long Island Railroad at Atlantic Terminal.

In evaluating the RFEI responses, NYCEDC and DOC will use a number of criteria, such as economic impact on the City, development team qualifications, financial feasibility, relationship to surrounding community and land use and architectural design. Responses will also be evaluated on how well they address DOC requirements. Respondents are strongly encouraged to submit a plan to integrate high-performance features into design and construction practices. Respondents are also urged to include a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises and Local Hiring and Utilization Plan.

A copy of the complete RFEI may be requested by visiting or by calling 212-312-3969. There will be a combined Site Visit and Question & Answer session held for interested developers on Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 at 275 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn. Responses to the RFEI are due no later than 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18, 2007.

New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City’s primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC’s mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City’s competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City’s many opportunities.

About DOC
New York City Department of Correction (DOC) provides for the care, custody and control of persons accused of crimes or convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. The Department manages 15 inmate facilities, 10 of which are on Rikers Island, receives more than 100,000 admissions each year, and manages an average daily inmate population of approximately 14,000 individuals.


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Contact Info

Janel Patterson/Yonit Golub 212-312-3523