June 28, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Workers have broken ground on a community space and parking garage near Queens Borough Hall — the first major step in the construction of a borough-based jail in Kew Gardens, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday.
The new facility, which will be 105 feet tall, will include a 25,000-square-foot multi-purpose community space and more than 600 public parking spots.
The facility is being built adjacent to the future site of a 195-foot-tall jail — where the decommissioned Queens Detention Complex at 182-02 82nd Ave. is located. The detention facility will be demolished while the garage is being built.
The garage/ community space building 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 jail will eventually span both the site of the former Queens Detention Complex and the east side of the parking lot.
However, the east side of the lot, with 140 parking spots, will remain open for public usage during construction of the parking garage — which is expected to be completed in early 2023.
The facility is being built ahead of the new jail — which earlier proposals slated design and construction to begin in 2023.
The future jail is part of the city’s larger $8.3 billion plan to close the jails on Rikers Island by 2026 and replace them with four smaller jails in every borough but Staten Island.
“Today we move one huge step closer to our goal of a fairer and more equitable jail system for all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Closing Rikers Island will make our city stronger and more just, and I’m proud to deliver a system that better reflects this city’s values.”
The City Council voted to approve the borough-based jails plan in 2019, despite all four community boards where the jails will be sited rejecting it.
Queens Community Board 9 unanimously voted against the jail plan, arguing that large jails shouldn’t go up in residential areas.