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Mayor Spano: From Jailhouse To Yonkers Art House

Photo Credit: Contributed
Photo Credit: Contributed

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Last week, we fulfilled a promise once made to Yonkers taxpayers more than 20 years ago.

Yonkers Downtown Waterfront is a vibrant, growing neighborhood and destination, minutes from Manhattan, home to great restaurants, waterfront living, beautiful parks and views unlike anywhere else.

It's also becoming a capital for creativity and innovation, attracting tech companies like Mindspark which recently opened their new headquarters (and relocated 160 high-paying jobs) at i.Park just next door to Kawasaki and ContraFect Biotech.

The Downtown Waterfront neighborhood is also home to the 87-year-old City Jail building, located on prime waterfront real estate.

When I came into office nearly two years ago I proposed building a new jail at another location which would allow the City to sell and re-utilize the old jail to continue the growth of Downtown Yonkers. As I found out, the City already built a new jail – 22 years ago – at the Cacace Justice Center just above the Courts and Yonkers Police Headquarters. Instead of housing prisoners, the Cacace Center jail was being used to store boxes and furniture behind bars. In September, we started using the jail for its intended purpose, moving all jail operations out of the 87-year-old jail on the waterfront to the new jail at the Cacace Center. The move is saving tax dollars by eliminating costly prisoner transport as the jail is now in the same building as the Courts. Additionally, last week I was excited to announce that what was once a house for prisoners will soon house one of the finest art collections in the world. World-renowned art collector Daniel Wolf and his wife, artist Maya Lin, who designed the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, will purchase the 10,000 square foot jail and transform the site into a base for their collection, as well as studio, exhibition, gallery and loft space. This prime waterfront real estate in the heart of our vibrant Downtown area was no place for a jail, but it's an ideal location for an international art collection. It sets an anchor for the art community here in Yonkers that adds to the culture of a Downtown neighborhood that's bursting with opportunity to live and enjoy the beautiful Hudson River waterfront. The project also resembles the ways in which we are finding better ways to operate government and utilize our best resources for the benefit of our city and our taxpayers.

Mike Spano is mayor of Yonkers.

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