- A New York City commission has offered up a plan to turn beleaguered 400-acre Rikers Island jail complex into a third runway for LaGuardia Airport, according to the Associated Press.
- The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform said that redeveloping the island to accommodate air traffic from nearby LaGuardia would increase the airport's flight capacity by 40% and accommodate an additional 12 million passengers. Critics of the commission's $22 billion plan said it would cost too much money and that the noise would disturb communities along the projected flight path
- Part of the commission's LaGuardia plan also includes a wastewater treatment facility, a solar field and a public greenway on the island, which the group said could be built without an airport component at a cost of $15 billion.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the city would begin a 10-year shutdown of Rikers Island, pleasing activists who have long protested against the facility's reputation for alleged abuse and human rights violations. That amount of space doesn't come available too often in New York City, but, because of the proximity to LaGuardia, there are height restrictions that preclude the high-rise, mixed-use developments that have become increasingly popular.
In fact, late last year the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced its plans to turn the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in the Bronx into a $300 million mixed-use and affordable housing development.
The 5-acre site will feature 740 affordable housing units, a public plaza, recreational space, a light industrial center, artist and community space and 21,000 square feet of retail and commercial. The project is set for a 2024 completion and is expected to create a total of 1,600 construction jobs and almost 180 permanent jobs.
Although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed interest in the Rikers Island runway idea, he also pointed out that there is already a redevelopment of LaGuardia underway. Construction began on LaGuardia's new $4 billion terminal last year, and general contractor Skanska USA, which heads up the P3 team of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, said it is the company's largest project ever.