Chinatown Again Rallies Against 30-Story Jail

Posted on: March 21st, 2022 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Ian Chan

Chinatown neighbors again organized yesterday in opposition to the Borough-based jail planned for the Manhattan Detention Center.

Organized by Neighbors United Below Canal, the most vocal opponent of the plan, the march attracted an estimated two thousand protesters. The route snaked through the core of Chinatown, and concluded at the soccer field in the middle of Columbus Park. 

“[We want to] send local politicians the message that will unite to fight against harm in our communities,” a public statement from the group reads.

Councilman Marte addresses attendees, Photo: Ian Chan

And with the goal to save Chinatown NYC, one of the last authentic Chinatowns in the country, from being further erased.

The $2.3 billion Manhattan mega-jail is expected to rise close to thirty stories and include enough cells for 886 inmates, roughly the same number as the existing jail complex. But its design and height are not yet finalized, following a pattern of constant plan revisions.

The initial proposal under the de Blasio administration was to erect a 40-story detention center at 80 Centre Street. However, in November 2018, city officials swapped that for a 50-story, 520-foot structure atop the current White Street Manhattan Detention Center that would occupy 1.5 million square-feet. A few months later, the city slashed its height to 45 stories and 1.3 million square-feet with 1,440 beds. Despite those changes, the city continued seeking input for how to reduce the footprint even further.

By the end of 2019, former Councilmember Margaret Chin reportedly convinced the city to drop the height of the jail structure to 295 feet, with close to 700,000 square feet.

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