houseofd.jpgThe New York Times has one of those stories today that exemplifies the friction that occurs in a transitioning neighborhood, but with a twist that involves a group of residents who would be there against their will. In this particular case, it's about how neighbors feel about the proposed re-opening of Brooklyn's House of Detention on Atlantic Ave. and Boerum Place.

By any reasonable measure, developers and new residents helped soften the economic blow to the neighborhood following the 2003 closing of the Brooklyn jail, when the owner of the Soul Spot restaurant across the street had to trim his operating hours and menu after a 20% decline in business.

When the jail closed, the area surrounding the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Boerum Place, where it sits, was trying to reinvent itself. It was an unremarkable neighborhood of gas stations and hunched old office buildings. Today it is home to some of the newest high-end apartment buildings in Brooklyn. There’s a sparkling new YMCA a block away from the old jail, a high-rise is being built next door and rows of condos line State Street a block away.

The new residents are upset at the proposed re-opening of the jail, which they feel will cast a pall over a neighborhood they feel they've rejuvenated. A separate article in yesterday's Times highlighted some concerns:

“Court officers abused placard parking thought the area, and some visitors to the jail would urinate in people’s yards, hide weapons and contraband in flower pots,” Mr. Perris said. “So there is concern that if the jail reopens and doubles in size, these problems will reappear and be worse than they were before.”

According to today's Times, merchants that have been in the neighborhood longer and used to cater to the people who worked at the jail, are nonetheless hopeful that the Brooklyn House of Detention will return, and seemed bemused at new residents' fears. The Times also sets a new standard for finding an angry neighborhood newcomer when it quotes "Corey Baylor, an investment banker who moved into a State Street condo four days ago". [emphasis ours].

Last year, Curbed looked at some alternative proposals about what to do with the closed jail that included plans to knock the current building down and build a new jail next to a luxury condo tower and another plan to re-open the existing building as a jail but with street-level retail establishments.

And 2004's House of D is about a young man who navigates a rough patch in his life with the help of advice shouted from behind bars by a woman locked in Manhattan's "House of D."