Officials at a senior citizens’ residence next to a Lower Manhattan jail say they were told by city officials that they’ll have a few extra months before demolition starts next door.
The Manhattan Detention Complex’s knockdown is being delayed from next March to June or July, according to Charlie Lai, executive director of the Chung Pak building for seniors, which is adjacent to the jail and is scheduled to receive protective upgrades before the demo work starts.
“That will give us only 12 months or so to complete everything,” he said, including shielding for a rooftop solarium and new windows. “I am extremely anxious about, you know, getting it started so that the building has its own envelope of safety.”
The call to Lai last week from the city’s affordable housing agency marked one of the latest signs that the de Blasio administration’s 10-year, $8.7 billion plan to replace Rikers Island with smaller jails in every borough except Staten Island has hit some early snags.
Another sign: some recent pandemic-spurred funding changes, which prompted one Lower Manhattan community group to crow this week: “We have saved Chinatown for now.”
But city officials said the plan to demolish and replace the 24-story jail tower known as The Tombs is still a go — along with the rest of the planned new lockups.
“There have been no cuts to funding for borough-based jails and the city remains committed to closing Rikers and building a jail system that is smaller, safer, and more humane,” said Maggie Halley, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.