Several sites under consideration for new jail in Lower Manhattan

It’s the ultimate gated community.

Early deliberations over a new jail site in lower Manhattan include an option to empty the notorious Tombs and convert portions into affordable housing or other community uses, sources familiar with the discussions said Friday.

That plan would be contingent on redeveloping the nearby government building at 80 Centre St., which houses the city’s Marriage Bureau, courtrooms and other offices, into a high-rise jail.

The site, which can go as high as 40 stories, could also include a community component — but the plan does not call for residential uses in the same building as the jail, sources said.

City Council member Margaret Chin, who as a community leader in the ’80s fought for the neighborhood to get affordable housing for seniors as part of the expansion of the Manhattan Detention Complex, said she’s planning to advocate for community benefits again.

“Today we are presented with an opportunity to take the rest of that land back to create more affordable housing, cultural amenities and much-needed parking for ­Chinatown,” she said.

City officials are also considering keeping The Tombs operating as a jail and expanding the site vertically to allow for more ­detainees to be housed there.

The options, which were presented to a select group of about 20 elected officials, neighborhood leaders and community-board officers Thursday, stem from the city’s plan to shutter Rikers Island by 2027. That initiative calls for reducing the city’s jail population to about 5,000 and dispersing the inmates to facilities in every borough except Staten Island.

Each borough with a site would be responsible for housing detainees who live in that borough. City officials have said they want to put the facilities near courthouses, in order to ease the delivery of prisoners to court appearances.

Community Board 1 chair ­Anthony Notaro, who attended the briefing with city officials, said they’re looking to find space for 1,500 prisoners.

The Tombs has a capacity of about 900.

“They want to move quickly on getting out an EIS,” he said, referring to the mandated environmental impact statement. “There’s a lot of work done and the administration is committed to making this [closing Rikers] happen.”

But he also said it was “unclear as to what would be built, if anything” and that representatives from Chinatown — which abuts The Tombs — expressed strong reservations.

Prisoners have been held at The Tombs site since 1838.

The current facility was built in 1941, remodeled in 1983 and has about 795,000 square feet.

Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks

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