With Closure of MCC Federal Prison, it’s High Time to Reopen Park Row [OP-ED]

Posted on: August 30th, 2021 at 5:09 am by

Photo: Bureau of Prisons

Is this what Chinatown has been waiting for?

The U.S. Department of Justice last week announced that the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) on Park Row is closing, largely due to lax security and infrastructure problems that have long plagued the facility.

The prison, situated in a complex of government buildings in lower Manhattan, currently has 233 inmates, down from a normal population of 600 or more. Most of them are expected to be transferred to a federal jail in Brooklyn.

MCC housed many infamous inmates over the years, including Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mafia boss John Gotti, close associates of Osama bin Laden, and Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff. Yet, it was the death of child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein a month after his arrest in 2019 that became a breaking point for a facility already battling squalid conditions and a rotating list of wardens.

While billed as a temporary sidelining, it’s high time the Feds close it permanently and re-open Park Row.

Park Row was a main artery from the Brooklyn bridge into Chinatown until the September 11 terrorist attacks. Thereafter, the road was closed due to security concerns, and evolved into a security zone closed off to traffic. Efforts by the community and local electeds to re-open the thoroughfare have only yielded a bike lane and pedestrian path.

Over the ensuing twenty years, it’s been a game of finger-pointing – the city blames the feds, who in turn blame Police Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. But now that the MCC will be closed and detainees relocated, the time is now to seize the day and reopen Park Row.

Recent Stories

Delivery Worker Slashed and Mugged in Ridge Street Condo

A food delivery worker on the job was slashed across the face Sunday evening while in the elevator of a luxury condo building on Ridge Street, according to police. The unidentified victim, a 29-year-old man, had been in the elevator of 78 Ridge Street (Ridge Street Residences nee River Ridge Condo) when he was approached by […]

Under Community Pressure, City Moves to Renovate Rivington Playground

As Sara D. Roosevelt Park continues its steady descent, area stakeholders are pushing to rehabilitate a key playground in the northern section of the park to stave off the danger element. The Rivington Street Playground, situated across from the M’finda Kalunga Garden, is next on the docket for a refresh, much in the same way […]

‘Belse’ Erases Paulaner from the Bowery Ahead of New Vegan Brewery

A vegan brewery and restaurant is poised to open on the Bowery, taking the place of the failed, and since fallow, Paulaner Brauhaus. Indeed, as previously reported, Dallas-based Belse is on board to take over 265-267 Bowery. The relative newcomer – which began life last February – will go even bigger with this larger Lower […]

Moscot Moves HQ from the Corner to New Orchard Street Store

Moscot is no longer on the corner, leaving behind Orchard and Delancey for a spot just paces to the south. And for the first time in its history, no rent to pay. As first reported by Bowery Boogie earlier this year, the centenary opticians chose the mid-block space at 94 Orchard as new base of […]

Mark Miller Reopens Orchard Street Gallery This Week with Street Artist Hektad

The Mark Miller Gallery returns to Orchard Street this week, and is enlisting the help of an established graffiti writer to help relaunch. The longtime Lower East Side showroom will reopen on Wednesday – after a two-year pandemic hiatus – with an exhibit featuring Hektad. “Looking at the graffiti art of Hektad is like finding […]