After Eight Years, BK Detention Center Reopens This Week

It may not be as swanky as the annual BHA House Tour, but hundreds of locals attended an open house Saturday at the Brooklyn Detention Center, located within a whisper of Brooklyn Heights at 275 Atlantic Avenue off Smith Street in Boerum Hill.

The event, where carrot cake and coffee were served, is part of a city PR campaign to stave off fears about the jail’s reopening this week, after being shuttered in 2003 because of budget cuts. It is destined to replace older jail buildings at Rikers Island that may be phased out. In all, the facility will house 759 inmates for an average of 57 days before standing trial in Brooklyn and Staten Island. No convicted felons are based at the Detention Center.

Over the last six years, six high-rise apartment buildings, such upscale stores as Barney’s Co-op and Trader Joe’s and a boutique hotel have opened in the vicinity, but the city assures local residents that neighbors won’t interact with inmates, thanks to an underground tunnel that connects the jailhouse to the courts. Then again, BDC sounds like a pretty lovely destination: The 10-story building offers a rooftop with a view where prisoners can play tennis and handball during their one hour of outside recreation each day.

Some local associations have formed an advisory board if problems do arise. Read more in The Wall Street Journal here and The New York Times here.

(Photo: Gothamist)

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  • DrewB

    I don’t see what all the uproar is about. The House of D was open when we first moved to the neighborhood, and we lived here for four years while it was operating. Didn’t have much of an impact on the area before, don’t know why it would now.

  • Hector

    Close a bunch of schools , reopen jails . wtf

  • harumph

    @DrewB – agreed – not much impact at all. but I do remember shouts coming from the building every time I walked by it…

  • resident

    @Hector – While it is lamentable that we aren’t building enough schools, I don’t really see the connection. The jail was there, the prisoners exist. If anything reopening the jail should save money in transportation cost from Rikers to the downtown courthouses.

  • David on Middagh

    I missed carrot cake!

  • EHinBH

    Community FAIL. Should have fought harder to get this closed. I, too, am to blame. Get ready for a resurgence in bail bondsmen, quarter-water delis, and streets littered with trash.

  • here

    I don’t understand how Rikers made carrot cake would have made that event ANY better.

  • resident

    I think some of you are needlessly freaking out. A city/county/etc. jail can be found at the heart of cities small and large all across the country. Just in NYC we have one in Manhattan within spitting distance of Tribeca, and one in Queens between the nice neighborhoods of Kew Gardens and Forest Hills. I’ll grant that neither of those jails are so integrated into the neighborhood is the BHD, but they both result in the same sort of foot traffic.

    I get it, it’s menacing to think about a building filled with accused criminals staring at you, but really, it’s not going to change the direction of the neighborhood.

  • DrewB

    @ Yonder: Nice stereotype. Did you note that “No convicted felons are based at the Detention Center.” . These are people awaiting trial. Yes many of them are poor, so maybe you’re concerned about influx of poor people coming to visit? Or do you just assume anyone who gets arrested in this town is surrounded by low lifes and thugs who are just waiting for the opportunity to visit them in prison so they can create havoc in the surrounding neighborhood. Did you live in the area when it was open? Other than people occasionally standing in line on the sidewalk to visit there loved ones, it was often hard to tell anything was happening there.

    Rikers is falling down, plus it has the added expense of transporting prisoners to trial. And you end up mixing those who are unconvinced and awaiting trial, with those who are convicted felons serving time. It is not a good situation.

  • here

    Most are poor, most are addicts or violent. And where do they go when they are released? Where do you think.

  • resident

    So you really think that these people, awaiting trial, are going to be released and be so stupid as to immediately commit another crime, in the immediate vicinity of the jail? Really?

    Fear mongering has really taken it’s toll… I feel bad for you.

  • here


    A lot of them walk right out of jail to buy more drugs.
    You are a little naive.

  • DrewB


    You mean they’re gonna come down to the hopping drug corner at Hicks and Jorelmon? Or maybe the well know crack den on Remsen? Where exactly in Brooklyn Heights do you think these people are going to “Walk out of jail and buy more drugs” If they want drugs that bad don’t you think they will high tail it back to their dealer? The jail was there for years and I never saw released inmates scoring drugs in the neighborhood. Did you ever see that when the DC was open before? You are a little paranoid.

  • resident

    @here: What DrewB said. It’s not naive to see the logical flaws in your statement. A drug dealer isn’t going to set-up in the immediate vicinity of the jail to take advantage of the handful of criminals released on a daily basis. Since drug dealers can’t exactly post billboards announcing their presence, it wouldn’t be the best business strategy on their part. No, if a guy is released from jail and needs a fix that bad, he’s going to hightail it back to where he always got his drugs before.

    @Yonder: Is it ideal? No. But it’s part of living in a city. All around the country, court houses are located in the center of cities, big and small. With a courthouse often comes a jail. Everyone else in the country deals with it, and I think we’ll do just fine ourselves.

  • DrewB

    @Yonder. The “giant freaking jail” has been on that corner for decades, and somehow the “nice commercial/residential strip” (which I would argue is a stretch) has managed to thrive. It was there before the Barney’s Co-Op. It was there before Trader Joe’s. It was there before the luxury condos. in fact the smith street high rise was built while the jail was still in use. It’s part of life in the city, you gotta keep the people awaiting trail somewhere, and every Borough needs a holding location.

  • George Carlin
  • Livingston


    Sorry but your logic is faulty. All that good stuff happened while that “giant freaking jail” was CLOSED. Prior to that, the Boerum HIll area was not what it is now — on the cusp of being a successful, desirable neighborhood. I can’t imagine this bodes well for that section of Atlantic closest to the Detention Center.

  • Jack

    One has to look at the secondary effects as well. I presume when a detainee gets injured at the jail to the point where treatment at the jail clinic is not sufficient, he will likely be transported to LICH/DownState Hospital. This is just another burden on an already stretched hospital ER facility and another reason to get sick in Manhattan, not Brooklyn. I just don’t really want to share an emergency room with a chain gang

  • bornhere

    Jack — Brooklyn Central Brooklyn, infamous for so many things, including the “sick prisoner,” has used the LICH ER for decades. You wouldn’t believe who might be sharing your healthcare facilities with you (even in the City).

    And I went to Friends for 12 years, when it was located on Schermerhorn Street. Our little play yard faced the prison, and our building was next to BCB; I know things were different way back then, but we little Friends bunnies never had a problem (and we never even had a “security guard” at the entrances to our building).

    I also look back to the 70s, 80s, and 90s with a certain fondness for the great antique stores on Atlantic Avenue, the random interesting shops, etc.; walking past the prison was just part of the trip.

  • Gerry

    @ resident you bet they will go out to commit another criime happens every day. Fear not neighborhood the prisoners will not get that many vistors everything in Borum Hill will be just fine.

  • Jack


    I think you are right. The more we mix as a society, the more aware of others we become and perhaps more tolerant. I just hope the City properly plans to cater for all that are under its purview, even in a time of savage cut backs.

  • Jorale-man

    Maybe the Brooklyn Industries story across the street can start selling prison-themed T-shirts and such. (“I Went to the Brooklyn House of D and all I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”)

  • Arch Stanton

    Yes Yonder, there is indeed “some real idiocy on display here”. Your comments are some of the most idiotic and i’ll add ignorant, of them all. Don’t know where you came from (I don’t care either), I only hope you go back there, yonder. And Here, you should go back there too.

  • North heights res

    Typical BH NIMBY, as though our ability to spend absurd amounts of $$ on real estate should entitle us to mix only with “our own kind” & to foist off responsibility for social ills on neighborhoods not as well-heeled as ours. What, only poorer people should have jails in their neighborhoods? The horror & disdain for the poor here are appalling.

  • BronxKid

    Just plain not good for the neighborhood!

  • JustANeighbor
  • Penny Bridge

    I agree with North heights res and would add that the inmates would seem to be better neighbors then many of these bloggers.

  • Willow St. Neighbor

    North Heights Res,
    I could not have said it better!

  • Brooklyn Tea

    Roof Deck, tennis, handball…a place where the prisoners can play???? My child’s school doesn’t have these facilities.

    The common sense deficit in this country is incomprehensible.

  • GHB

    @Brooklyn Tea… yeah, but at 3:00, your child gets to go home.