Demolition Progresses for 45-Story Manhattan Detention Complex at 124-125 White Street in Chinatown, Manhattan

125 White Street. Photo by Michael Young

Demolition work is continuing for the Manhattan Detention Complex (MDC) at 124-125 White Street in Chinatown, Manhattan. Led by design-build organization Gramercy Group Inc., the $2.13 billion project will replace the aging detention center known as “The Tombs” with a 295-foot-tall structure spanning 1.25 million square feet and approximately 15 to 17 stories high. When complete, the MDC will stand as the tallest jail structure in the world and its modern facilities will help accommodate the planned closure of Rikers Island. AECOM-Hill JV is the construction manager for the property, which is bound by Walker Street to the north, the Manhattan Criminal Court Building to the south, Baxter Street to the east, and Centre Street to the west.

Recent photographs show the progress of the $125 million demolition, which is unfolding in multiple phases. Most of the main L-shaped tower is covered in a network of scaffolding as crews work to gut its interiors, and the low-rise structure that formerly sat in its void along Baxter Street has already been fully razed and its footprint partially excavated. The second-story bridge that connected the main building to the tallest structure in the complex to the south has also been demolished.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

No finalized renderings have been released for the project apart from the below illustrations, which only depict the scale of the massing. Nevertheless, these diagrams still serve to preview the immense proportions of the new facility. The city plans to construct the building to the maximum allowed dimensions of the zoning envelope.

The project has been the subject of intense controversy over the past several years, with local residents and activists voicing fierce opposition to its construction. Elected officials including Assemblywoman Grace Lee, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, and City Councilmember Christopher Marte have also opposed the plans, and have urged the city to instead consider an “adaptive reuse” refurbishment of the existing facilities to bring them up to contemporary standards.

In response to the outpouring of opposition, the Adams Administration briefly ordered a pause on the demolition on April 19, only to reverse course and green light the project in late May, citing that the alternative renovation proposals would be “impractical” and “not appropriate.”

125 White Street is among a slate of four new detention facilities being constructed across the city, with counterparts in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, at a collective cost of around $8.7 billion. Demolition work is slated to conclude in November, as noted on site. No official timetables have been released for the new facilities, though past announcements have targeted 2027 at the earliest.

Subscribe to YIMBY’s daily e-mail

Follow YIMBYgram for real-time photo updates
Like YIMBY on Facebook
Follow YIMBY’s Twitter for the latest in YIMBYnews


23 Comments on "Demolition Progresses for 45-Story Manhattan Detention Complex at 124-125 White Street in Chinatown, Manhattan"

  1. “A 45-story, 300 foot-tall structure”, huh? ..”Will stand as the tallest jail structure in the world”..some honor.

    • That works out to 6.6 feet per story height for the Jail. If you take in floor thickness the the floors would be less tha 6 feet in height. Did YIMBY do a typo or was it the city fibing. Only the warden knows?

      • I believe the proposal was reduced to 29 stories, no longer 45 unfortunately. High-rise jails to replace the completely inhumane Rikers seems the most efficient land use to me. Do NIMBYs care about the human rights violations there? (rhetorical question). Completely laughable that they’re advocating for adaptive reuse of the current building. Cry more, NIMBYs!

        I’m looking forward to seeing actual renderings, as well as any updates on the other jails proposed for other boroughs which seem to be planned on similar scales.

        • “Inhumane “ for the inhumane

        • Why not just rebuild each building on Rikers Island? It’s central to all excpt SI and offers a great natural barrier.

          And what’s more inhumane, raping, killing and assulting innocent people, or placing people who rape, kill and assult behind bars?

  2. I guess some “lucky” inmates will be able to enjoy incredible views of the Financial district above the 40th floor?!

    And I’m assuming there will be amenities including…
    library, TV lounges,
    gyms, in house “hair salon”,
    various “dining” facilities,
    a rooftop exercise yard, and
    of course secure “doormen”!
    🤔 🔗 🤣

  3. 45 story, 300 foot-tall structure? With an average floor to ceiling height of 6’ 7”, those numbers don’t add up.

  4. Might as well make it a 100 story prison . Lol the cost will be at least one billion higher..

  5. I remember how appalled I was at this brutalist monster when it went up, and I’m happy to see it go, but I’m worried about the scale of its replacement. Do we really want the jail to be the most conspicuous building in the neighborhood?

    • The White Street Jail was the poster child for the lack of accountability under Wicks Law. The general contractor couldn’t get the building enclosed on schedule because the pins used by the stone vendor (in Italy, I think) didn’t align with the pins/brackets that the GC had installed and they lost a season of interior electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work, yet those contractors were paid a penalty for the delay, for which they were not at fault.

  6. A facility apparently reserved for the world’s shortest criminals.

  7. can you imagine $8.7 billion how many affordable housings you can build?

  8. David : Sent From Heaven. | August 7, 2023 at 10:18 am | Reply

    The detention facility is huge, and I would like to participate in its construction. Over 40-story and record as the tallest place of detention in the world, according to the city’s permission to build I thought that it taking up much space; more than enough to plan: Thanks to Michael Young.

  9. Woof, looks like Judge Dredd is gonna need a was right dollar jar

  10. Utterly horrible in every imaginable way

  11. 2.2-billion-dollar jail!? Are you kidding me. Why not rebuild Rikers island for criminals. Why are we putting everyone (homeless, immigrants, illegal aliens, and now violent criminals in Manhattan?

    • David in Bushwick | August 7, 2023 at 12:19 pm | Reply

      Rikers distance requires a full day to get one person to the courthouse in Manhattan or Brooklyn and back. It costs taxpayers tens of millions a year for the staff and vehicles. Placing new prisons near their respective courthouses makes sense. And Rikers is a medieval hell hole. Will the management and staff in these new facilities be any better?
      The American Prison Industry is big money, just like Big Military which will get $886 Billion for next year alone. But there’s no money for Medicare or social security…

  12. David of Flushing | August 7, 2023 at 6:35 pm | Reply

    Another monument of Brutalism bites the dust. The replacement will likely be all glass.

  13. With this size budget that is bound to be an a Normas amount of corruption. Want to be ironic if the if the criminal ended up in the very jail that day received the graft for

  14. A giant storage unit for broken people…. What have we become?

  15. David of Flushing | August 8, 2023 at 9:18 am | Reply

    Curiously, Rikers Island is in the jurisdiction of the Bronx though it can only be reached from Queens. The Bronx courts handle the incidents there.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.