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Bronx jail site’s transformation into affordable housing breaks ground

The project will convert the former jail site into a mixed-use development

A rendering of the planned Hunts Point development.
Gilbane Development Company

After four years of planning, a project to transform a once notorious juvenile detention center in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx is underway.

The new mixed-used development that is replacing the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center is anchored by affordable housing but includes a mix of retail, recreational and industrial space, and community facilities. The development team—Gilbane Development Company, Hudson Companies and the Mutual Housing Association of New York—broke ground on the first of the three phase project Monday.

Local officials say the effort is an important turning point away from the neighborhood’s legacy of incarceration, the detention center opened in 1957, and toward investing in locals.

“For more than five decades, the grounds of Spofford Juvenile Detention Center symbolized a system that caused much pain and despair,” said City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, who represents the area. “While we will never forget the terrible legacy of Spofford, a transformative movement spearheaded by the community has led to a groundbreaking of hope.”

The detention center overshadowed the neighborhood for decades, but city officials aim to give the area a shot in the arm with new housing, facilities, and programming.

The five-building development, known as The Peninsula, was selected and unveiled by the city in 2016 to overhaul the five-acre site. The project, designed collaboratively by WXY Architecture + Urban Design and Body Lawson Associates, will include 740 units of below-market-rate housing, workspace for artists, a kitchen for culinary startups, and ground-floor retail space, among other components.

The first residential phase comes with a $121.5 million price tag—financed by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Housing Development Corporation—and is expected to wrap up in 2021. The entire project is slated for completion in 2025 and is expected to cost some $300 million.