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PR- 209-04
July 29, 2004


Former Naval Prison Will Be Demolished to Make Way for Housing, Commercial & Community Space

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Housing, Preservation & Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan today announced the formation of a community task force to help guide the redevelopment of the Brig, a 104,600 square foot site located in the Wallabout/Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.  The Brig, adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was originally a federal naval prison and was later used as a City correctional facility before its prisoners were transferred to Riker’s Island in the 1990s.  The building will be demolished leaving a large site for the development of up to 400 new homes and apartments, and commercial and community space. The area is bounded by Flushing and Park Avenues, and Clermont and Vanderbilt Avenues. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Letitia James and other members of the task force attended the announcement.

“Increasing the supply of housing is critical to continuing to spur Brooklyn’s economic growth,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Today, we are taking the next step toward the creation of up to 400 new homes here on the site of the former Navy Yard Brig. Once completed, the site will include both affordable and market-rate apartments, community facilities and neighborhood retail space as well as permanent supportive housing, which will help us with our goal to reduce homelessness by two-thirds over the next five years. Our housing plan to finance the construction or renovation of 65,000 units of affordable housing by 2008 is also on track; since we launched this initiative, more than 10,000 units of affordable housing have been put in the development pipeline. I want to thank the members of the Brig Community Task Force for the time and talent they will donate to this important effort.”

“The Brig was HPD’s fourth international design workshop, and our model of ‘planning by consensus’ with teams of professionals and full community involvement in planning and decision-making is helping New York City’s communities achieve a healthy transformation,” said Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan.  “Ultimately, the level of consensus achieved at the onset facilitates the public approval process.”

“Brooklyn’s growth continues, but to insure a place for everyone in this success story, we must create affordable housing,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “The formation of this task force brings Brooklyn one step closer to realizing the community’s vision by transforming the Brig site into housing affordable to Brooklynites of every income level.  I’m confident that the community working with its elected officials and the City will unlock the Brig site potential, opening the door to an even brighter future for this neighborhood.”
“I applaud this administration’s commitment to redevelop the Brig site,” said Council Member Letitia James. “I’m ecstatic that the community will continue to participate in the planning process to create a spectacular mixed-use development with commercial/retail, community and green spaces and most importantly, the affordable housing that is so needed here in Brooklyn and all over New York City.”

HPD hosted an International Design Workshop in December, 2003 to create a vision for the redevelopment of the site. Community residents, local business leaders, elected officials, a team of architects and planners, representatives of the Department of City Planning (DCP), Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation participated.  The three-day workshop resulted in a site plan that addresses a range of community concerns including the need for affordable and market-rate housing, permanent supportive housing, local retail, and community facilities.  It was estimated that approximately 400 housing units could be developed at the Brig site.  The workshop’s final recommendation was the formation of a community task force to help the City refine the site plan and continue the dialogue with area residents and businesses.  

The objectives of the Task Force, composed of representatives from the community, city agencies and elected officials, will be to:

  • Define the share of on-site mixed uses (housing, commercial, community facilities)
  • Determine the proportion of affordable, market rate and permanent supportive housing
  • Confirm the type of commercial uses, community facilities and parking
  • Reach consensus regarding streetscape improvements
HPD will issue a competitive Request for Proposals for development of the site in 2005. The members of the Brig Community Task Force include:
  • M. Blaise Backer, Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project
  • Daniel Barrero, Wallabout Community Association
  • Richard Bearak, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President
  • Doug Bowen, Community Resident
  • Georgiana Glose, Fort Greene SNAP
  • John Gildia, Pastor, Sacred Heart Church
  • Louis Green, Community Resident
  • Frazier Halloway, Community Resident
  • Letitia James, Councilwoman, 35th Council District
  • Joseph R. Lentol, Assemblyman, 50th Assembly District
  • Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President
  • Shirley McRae, Chairperson, Community Board 2
  • Howard Pitsch, Fort Greene Association
  • Lawrence Whiteside, Community Board 2

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.

Earlier this month, the Mayor unveiled a strategic plan to create new facilities and generate hundreds of new jobs in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of the City’s largest and most successful industrial centers.  The expansion plan is expected to generate between 500 and 800 new jobs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard within the next 3 to 5 years. And in May, the Department of Small Business Services announced that their Workforce Development Corporation had released an RFP for a workforce consultant to coordinate a hiring initiative with Steiner Studios and other film industry-related employers at the Navy Yard, which will bring hundreds of jobs to the area.


Ed Skyler / Jonathan Werbell   (212) 788-2958


Carol Abrams   (HPD)
(212) 863-5176

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