A shuttered women's prison that once had the nation's highest rate of reported staff sexual violence will be redeveloped into a "headquarters of the women's equality movement," housing nonprofits that advance women globally, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and philanthropic groups announced Monday.
The symbolism behind the transformation of the Bayview Correctional Facility - at W. 20th Street and 11th Avenue in Manhattan -- into "The Women's Building" was touted at a Chelsea Piers news conference attended by feminist icon Gloria Steinem. The medium-security state prison -- a 100,000-square-foot space in Chelsea -- was decommissioned in 2013.
"This is a historic opportunity to reclaim a site of pain and confinement and transform it into a place that supports and celebrates women and our contributions to the world," said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation, which is entering into a long-term lease with New York State for the facility.
The Women's Building is envisioned as a "vertical neighborhood" with offices for organizations, community space, a wellness clinic and an art gallery, Shifman said.
Cuomo said The Women's Building represents two of his priorities: closing prisons and championing women's rights.
"We take down an institution of failure and defeat and we rise from those ashes a building about the future and potential and true social reform," Cuomo said.
The facility will create 300 new jobs and an estimated $43 million in economic activity annually, his office said.
The NoVo Foundation, working with women-owned development company Goren Group, will take on a lease of up to 99 years with an initial annual base rent of $3.5 million.
Steinem in a statement said she has sought to create such a hub since the 1970s.
"Now, there is even more need because of high rent and operating costs here, and more hope because we've seen how much such buildings benefit other cities," she said.