2006_3_houseofdetention.jpg

The New York Times is reporting that the Brooklyn House of Detention is going to be turned into a novel mixed-use building: a jail-mall! That's right-- the mayor is pushing for a 24,000 square foot mall in the bottom stories of the colossally ugly building on the corner of Atlantic and Boerum Place:

The biggest question may now be which businesses the Department of Correction, the property's landlord, will bring to this increasingly residential section of Boerum Hill.

City and borough officials have publicly suggested a high-end food store, a children's clothing outlet or law offices. But retailing experts, community groups and New York City business owners interviewed Friday had their own ideas.

"There's a tremendous amount of potential to sell what I call the nifty-gifties," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a market research firm. "You have a captive audience, even with the visitors," he added. Forget boutique stores. "Think of it as more of an upscale airport gift shop."

The Department of Corrections also wants to renovate the top stories of the building to house 1600 inmates-- about double the old capacity before the jail was closed. Of course, executives at all the major chains said they wouldn't be caught dead associating their brands with a prison, and neighborhood activists think the idea is stupid, ridiculous, and a bad-fit for the neighborhoods.

We liked one of the previous ideas for the building: turning it into high-priced condos. Why? Because if you're paying $750k for a 500sqft apartment, you're living in a jail cell anyway-- why not go whole hog?