For decades, the Spofford Juvenile Center was a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system. The troubled facility was plagued by gang violence, inmate abuse and barbaric conditions. Now the site is about to be transformed.

“This is Spofford. This is where dreams came to die. This is about us making something really ugly a big, dirty secret, or secrets that happened here, that damaged lives for decades and we’re turning it,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

Friday, marked the beginning of Spofford’s demolition. It will be replaced by a development called La Peninsula, with 740 affordable apartments with rents as low as $390 a month. The site will also include a childcare center, space for artists and light manufacturing.

“I like the plan you know. I’ve been living here for years and I see everything from across the street from my window so I’m looking forward to do this. I find it beautiful,” a Hunts Point Resident said.

Spofford was shut down seven years ago and residents have long wanted it replaced with something positive for Hunts Point, a South Bronx neighborhood with its own notorious past, but now enjoying a renaissance.  

“The Hunts Point Community has long deserved to bare the fruit of its efforts. And no symbol of triumph will shine brighter in this community than the removal of this center and making its way for a host of new community amenities,” Maria Torres, President and CEO of The Point, CDC said.

The demolition will be done gradually with construction set for Winter 2019. It will be wrapped up in three individual phases. The complete transformation is set to be complete by 2024.