Death of the Tombs as Demolition Prep Commences Ahead of High-rise Jail

Posted on: May 27th, 2022 at 5:10 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

It’s death for the Tombs. Or, rather demolition.

After three years of protests and community outrage, the Manhattan Detention Complex at 125 White Street is finally coming down. Demolition just started ahead of the eventual high-rise jail destined for the site.

In December 2021, the city terminated the leases of businesses beneath the jail along Baxter and Centre Streets with the help of Chung Pak LDC; the adjacent senior building also manages these retail units and purportedly facilitated compensation packages. (They previously voiced concern over health issues arising from construction.)

Now, over five months later, and despite protests earlier this month, traffic barriers and fencing now surround the prison complex. First phase of the job is the removal of artwork from the site, to be stored and possibly reused. The last-ditch federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the artworks’ creators failed when the judge ruled demolition can move forward.

The Department of Design and Construction released a demolition timeline and held two public updates on Zoom for community partners to answer questions. (Residents can also address concerns at the DDC walk in office located at 110 Walker.) Essentially, razing the Tombs will last until July 2023 at the earliest.

Chinatown was fed false hope when Councilman Chris Marte announced he had convinced mayor Adams to back away from the jail plan. The next day, Marte’s refuted by Adams. Chinatown can now look forward to years of disruption.

Built on the site of four previous jails nicknamed the “The Tombs,” the $2.3 billion correctional facility will be the tallest jail in the world at thirty stories, and with cells for 886 inmates. (It replaces a prison complex that is only forty years old.)

Overall project completion is targeted at 2027.

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