June 28, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Workers have opened a community space and parking lot near Queens Borough Hall – the first major step in building a prison in the Kew Gardens borough, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday.
The new facility, which will be 105 feet high, will include a 25,000 square foot multi-use community space and over 600 public parking spaces.
The facility is being built next to the future site of a 195-foot-high jail – where the disused Queens Detention Complex is located at 182-02 82nd Ave. The detention center will be demolished while the garage is being built.
The garage / community space will be erected on the west side of an existing parking lot at Union Turnpike between 126th Street and 132nd Street. The future 886-bed prison will eventually expand both on the site of the former Queens detention complex and on the east side of the parking lot.
However, the east side of the land, with 140 parking spaces, will remain open to the public during construction of the parking lot – which is expected to be completed in early 2023.
The facility is under construction ahead of the new prison – whose earlier proposals design and construction is expected to begin in 2023.
The future prison is part of the city’s largest $ 8.3 billion plan to close Rikers Island prisons by 2026 and replace them with four smaller prisons in every borough except Staten Island.
“Today we are one step closer to our goal of a fairer and more equitable prison system for all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement. “The closure of Rikers Island will make our city stronger and fairer, and I am proud to propose a system that better reflects the values of this city. “
The city council voted to approve the district’s prison plan in 2019, despite the rejection of the four community councils where the prisons will be located.
Queens Community Board 9 voted unanimously against the jail plan, arguing that large prisons should not rise in residential areas.