brooklynbrig.jpgA piece of Brooklyn property with a varied and interesting history is going to be turned into mixed-income housing by the city and developers. It is the former site of the Navy Brig in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Located between Flushing and Park Aves. and bounded by Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves., the one-time naval prison is across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The Brig was built in the early 1940s and served as a naval prison. After the closing of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1966, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service used the Brig as a detention center until 1984 when, faced with severe overcrowding in its prisons, New York City sought ownership of the prison. The Brig served as a minimum security prison until it was closed in December, 1994. The last occupants of the Brig were volunteer workers involved in the post-September 11th cleanup effort.

New York City introduced a proposal to develop the property to provide affordable housing several years ago. The history above was excerpted from a city press release almost three years old announcing the project. The New York Times reports this week, though, that developers will be turning the former penal facility into townhouses, co-op apartments, and rental apartments for a mixed-income population.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced that a partnership between the Dunn Development Corporation and L&M Equity Participants Ltd., two development companies specializing in low-priced housing, would redevelop the 103,000-square-foot site between Flushing and Park Avenues with 434 housing units.

Gothamist noted this project back in July 2004 when it was first introduced. This particular section of Brooklyn has a history with prisons dating back to the American Revolution. Until the British left New York in 1783, there was a system of prison ships and barges anchored in the bay that is now surrounded by the Navy Yard. Approximately 11,000 Americans died on these ships from disease and starvation during the war. There is a memorial in Fort Greene Park nearby called The Prison Ships Martyrs Monument, dedicated to the prisoners whose bones continued to wash ashore in Brooklyn for years afterward.