condojail.jpgSo do armed guards, barred doors, and locked cells. That's what the City is hoping anyway, as it floats plans to have developers build condos contiguous to an expanded Brooklyn House of Detention. Testing the limits of desirability of New York real estate, the Dept. of Corrections has been considering building retail space and restaurants on the first floor of the jail for the last year (Prison Tower Records? Lever Big House?). But with rents and real estate prices verging on the criminal, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz thinks that people will be happy to not only eat and shop there, but to live next to the jail, and the DOC is considering building residential, hotel, or office buildings that directly abut an expanded Brooklyn House of Detention.

The city is seeking a developer interested in supervising the expansion and renovation of the jail and in owning the retail space on the street level of the complex, as well as the new residential or commercial buildings.

Robert Maruca, a deputy correction commissioner, said he understood that there might be trepidation about having inmates on the other side of one’s bedroom wall.

“We had to get comfortable with it from a security perspective,” Mr. Maruca said. “We’re confident that we can design in the right type of separation and orient the nonjail buildings away from the jails.”

That is actually a dealbreaker condition proposed to developers: prisoners must not be able to view into their neighbors' homes and vice versa, which we're sure will be of great comfort to future tenants. The article in the Times (which has a graphic, pictured) quotes the executive VP of a real estate brokerage firm who is confident that good value will trump fear in the end, adding that the ability to find parking near their homes will prove more important to residents than the fact that their neighbors are all incarcerated. We don't doubt it. In fact, if the New York real estate market continues on its present course, we recommend the DOC consider renting out cells inside the jail and marketing them as "secured studios in a unique and supervised environment, with on-site amenities like a workout room and cafeteria."