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State announces plan to turn former Chelsea jail into Women’s Building

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a project that would convert the Bayview Correctional Facility, a 100,000 s/f space in Chelsea in Manhattan, to a “Women’s Building” that will serve as a hub for over a dozen women’s groups. The property, located in 550 West 20th Street, will be redeveloped to house an office building with a restaurant, an art gallery.

The NoVo Foundation, a women and minority-owned business advocacy, and the Goren Group, a North Yonkers-based development firm, will jointly redevelop the property.

Once completed, the facility is expected to generate 300 jobs and $43 million in annual economic activity.

”Today we are continuing our efforts to shatter the glass ceiling by taking down an institution of defeat and turning it into opportunity and social reform for women,” Governor Cuomo said.

“The Women’s Building is an example of our strength and leadership as the capital of progressivism in this nation – and when other states and look to New York, they will see yet another symbol of a community coming together to enhance the future and potential of its people.”

According to the terms of the deal, the NoVo Foundation will be locked into a 99-year lease with the state.

The lease, which is valued at about $200 million, requires NoVo to build community spaces such as a female adolescent wellness clinic, a women’s art gallery and restaurant on the ground floor and additional space for tech and creative industries tenants.

“The Women’s Building is an important step forward for the NoVo Foundation and its partners across New York. A landmark presence in the Chelsea neighborhood – one which is defined by innovation and social progress – will not only help advance the rights of girls and women and the progress to which our partners work so hard to achieve, but New York and beyond. We are proud to be a part of this important announcement and thank the dedicated organizations who worked tirelessly and the Governor for his leadership in making this a reality,” read a joint statement from NoVo Foundation Co-Presidents Jennifer and Peter Buffett.

The eight-story building was erected in the 1930s as a Seaman’s House YMCA. It was turned into a prison about four decades later.

In 2012, inmates inside the facility were evacuated due to Hurricane Sandy. The former medium security women’s prison was closed in 2013.

According to a press release, the state said that it did so to save taxpayers from funding underutilized facilities.

The state issued a request for proposals later that year.

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