Should Governor Cuomo Close Sing Sing Prison?

Managing Real Estate Broker with Howard Hanna Rand Realty License # 49FA1074963

Sing Sing to close? Wednesday's Journal News has a front page story on Ossining politicians urging Andrew Cuomo to close Sing Sing Prison. As a native of Ossining who worked a block away in a neighborhood market for years while in school, the idea gets my attention. Would closing Sing Sing make sense? Would it benefit Ossining? 

It is an intriguing thought. Sing Sing has been there since the early 1800's. It employs 824 people. It is a piece of history. But it is also a product of a bygone era when putting prisons, landfills and nuclear power plants on prive riverfront real estate wasn't viewed as a bad idea. And when Sing Sing was built, it was considered to be in a distant and sparsly populated area. It is now in the middle of the village of Ossining. 

Ossining loses $500,000 in taxes because of the exemptions on government -owned Sing Sing. I don't know anyone who is excited to have a maximum security prison in town, and that includes me. Few if any of the 800+ employees live in Ossining. From that point of view, and the tax angle, it does not contribute to the Ossining economy. 

I used to work counter at Southside Market on Spring Street about a block from Sing Sing. Most of the prison guards as they were known then (they are now referred to as correction officers) did not  live locally. Most COs lived out of the county, and their only contribution to local commerce was a pack a cigarettes and the sandwich I made for them. I suspect that little has changed. No CO lives near me to my knowledge. 

If a new prison were to be built today, it is inconceivable that they would choose prime waterfront property in a dynamic suburban village for the location. If this is the way they want to reboot the prison system, I say close the thing and let Ossining benefit. Develop the bulk of the land to make the highest and best use of waterfont property and turn the original, smaller cell block into a museum. That will ease the tax burden on the rest of us and give us new neighbors. In as much as I like to have fun with my proximity to the Big House, I'm all for it being a memory. 

Comments (7)

Larry Story ALC
Total Care Realty - Greensboro, NC
Beneath it all is the Land, Covering all of NC

Phillip so with all your media attention maybe some of those politicians saw your April fools post and thought it was a great idea!  Close Sing Sing and turn it into condo's!

Apr 08, 2011 07:34 AM
Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

Phil -  Kingston Ontario, my home town, had 5 prisons and it helps to sustain the city.  They decided to close the only Federal Prison for Women and I thought it was a huge mistake, as did all the employees and local businesses that provided for it.

I like to include a mention of the prisons in my Buyer's packs because it helps to show the self-sustainability of the area.  Jobs, jobs and more jobs. 

I used to joke when I lived right next door to one of the max prisons in one of my first apartments;  I was probably safer than most if there was a prison break because the convicts would want to get as far away as quickly as possible!

Apr 08, 2011 07:47 AM
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

The name Sing Sing is pretty memorable as far as famous prisons go.  Let's say they build condos or something similar where the prison sits now, that would be an interesting objection when a potential buyer says I'm not going to buy here because this use to be a prison.

Apr 08, 2011 09:05 AM
Mitch Gover - Orlando, FL

What you suggest sounds perfectly reasonable, especially since it includes preserving a piece as a museum.  With so much history there, it needs to be preserved, while still relieving taxpayers of an undue burden.  You've got my vote.

Apr 08, 2011 09:40 AM
Jack Mossman - The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Lodi
The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Lodi - Lodi, CA
The Nines Team in Lodi

Phil - I would presume that with all the safety retro-fitting and other increasing environmental demands, that keeping the prison in good condition is an ongoing cost.  A new prison built as a state-of-the-art facility might hit a good not on the bottom line of the balance sheet.  History may even be maintained ... if the buildings are in a condition that they could become a commercial/professional center.

Good yu you for not only having an oppinion ... but sharing it!

Apr 08, 2011 11:05 AM
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Phil - Perhaps Larry is correct.. local politicians are reading your psots so they can make better decisions... Hey - we can all hope...  I have only driven past Sing Sing (never visited) but it never fails to make we wonder about the misery within.... I like your thoughts.. Best, G

Apr 08, 2011 03:21 PM
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Very interesting.  You're so right that it's prime real estate.  oh, what fun to build and sell homes in that area.  I didn't realize it was tax exempt (although I guess that makes sense when I think abt it more).

Apr 08, 2011 10:50 PM