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Bronx Company Launches Contest to Revamp Old Juvenile Detention Center

By Eddie Small | October 16, 2014 2:50pm
 The winning entry in the Majora Carter Group's and Autodesk's competition to redesign Spofford.
The winning entry in the Majora Carter Group's and Autodesk's competition to redesign Spofford.
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Autodesk/Maksym Rokhmaniiko

HUNTS POINT — A Bronx-based company is turning to the public for ideas about what to do with an infamous former juvenile detention center in the borough.

Hometown Security Laboratories, a nonprofit affiliated with The Majora Carter Group, is running a competition for ideas about what to do with the old Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in Hunts Point, which closed in March 2011.

Categories will include architecture, urban design and economic development, and while the winning submissions may not necessarily be built, they are meant to inspire discussion about the future of the building, located on Spofford Avenue between Barretto and Tiffany streets.

"What we want to do is just keep it on the front burner," said James Chase, a spokesman at MCG, "because a property like that could easily just languish for decades if we don’t keep a little bit of pressure on it."

The city's Administration for Children's Services is responsible for maintaining the building as the city decides what to do with the site, according to ACS spokesman Christoper McKniff.

Last year, the Majora Carter Group teamed up with the design software company Autodesk for a similar project called "Transformation 2030: Spofford," a competition solely for architecture and design students that focused on making changes to the juvenile detention facility.

However, the current contest is open to anyone.

"We're relaunching in a fashion much more like the High Line," said Chase. "We're making it a very open competition, like the High Line did."

People will be able to apply for the contest at the website online at hometownsecuritylabs.org.

There will be an entry fee of between $10 and $25, but the company will likely waive this for school groups or other circumstances, Chase said.

The company is still soliciting prize money for the competition from corporate sponsors, and it has recruited hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy to be one of the jurors.

So far, Chase said they had heard a strong desire for services at the building like a laundromat, a café and a banquet hall for events such as weddings.

"We’re looking for submissions that will really encourage the corner to take off," he said.