The site of a South Bronx juvenile jail where Mayor Adams was once incarcerated as a teen will now serve as affordable housing for Bronx residents — a transformation Adams described as his “favorite project” at a Wednesday unveiling ceremony.
The Spofford Juvenile Detention Center closed in 2011, and on Wednesday, Adams and several other top city officials were there to celebrate what’s risen in its place: a 183-unit affordable housing development, the first phase in a broader plan to repurpose what was once a notorious corner of the Bronx.
“I was housed here as a juvenile at Spofford and now we’re building housing to prevent people from being housed in a juvenile correctional facility,” Adams said at the building’s unveiling. “That is amazing.”
The new building — part of the broader Peninsula redevelopment — will be home to 183 apartments for low-income tenants and cultural arts center with studio spaces for individual artists. That building is the first stage of a project that’s expected to produce a total of 740 affordable apartments, a supermarket and an early childhood education center.
Rents for the already-built apartments range from $396 a month for a studio to $2,131 for a three-bedroom. They’re intended for households with annual incomes ranging from $23,658 to $85,920.
Eighteen of the apartments are reserved for New Yorkers who were homeless.
The project is being overseen by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, and is being built out and managed by Gilbane Development Company, The Hudson Companies and MHANY Management.
Over the course of its 54 years, Spofford developed a reputation as place where children were abused by their captors and warehoused in lead paint-coated cells overrun with rats and roaches.
But on Wednesday it served city officials who gathered on the site as a symbol of what has changed in the Bronx since it closed down more than a decade ago.
Adolfo Carrión Jr., the former Bronx borough president who now serves as Adams’ housing commissioner, credited the shift not to government primarily, but to decades of grassroots activism and tenacity.
“Revival, renewal, and restoration doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “It was the people — the people living and what was left there, living and walking among the rubble, unfortunately. You remember those pictures. Attending little storefront churches, where around the church there was rubble, and then there was this little building, and people went into worship believing that they should not be defined by the limits of their circumstances.”
Both Adams and Carrión both noted later that some of those people eventually went on to run for office.
“These are people who made it and stayed to say, ‘We’re going to make a better future for those who are coming up after us,’” Adams said. “I’m really proud to be able to complete this project. This is not only your favorite project, this is going to be my favorite project because it’s all about the possibilities and opportunities.”