Judge rules against group trying to halt sale of Brooklyn Heights Library

Source: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle, July 11, 2016

Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc., headed by Brooklyn resident Marsha Rimler, had challenged the project’s environmental review, but the court dismissed the claims on July 7, saying they lacked merit. The court also ruled that the lawsuit was not served within the required deadline, and that any extension of the deadline for service would be unwarranted. … Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. had claimed that the city’s environmental review did not take into account several adverse environmental risks, including increased traffic, air pollution and noise, and long shadows cast in nearby parks. The city, however, provided a detailed explanation of how its environmental analysis was carried out, demonstrating it was in technical compliance with applicable laws. For example, the analysis found that construction vehicles would not add more than 50 “vehicle-trips” at any intersection during peak hours. Because of this, further analysis was not warranted, according to guidance under the CEQR Technical Manual, the city’s environmental “bible.” … The library site is being sold to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million. Hudson plans to build a 36-story luxury tower, with a new, smaller Brooklyn Heights branch on the ground floor and below ground. As part of the deal, 114 units of affordable housing will be built in Clinton Hill.


Brooklyn Public Library To Sell Branch to Real Estate Developer
Source: Ian Chant, Library Journal, August 13, 2015

…If plans continue apace, the system will sell its Brooklyn Heights location to real estate developer Hudson Companies for upwards of $50 million. A 36 story residential tower of condos will be built on the site of the branch, in one of the borough’s toniest neighborhoods, and the ground floor will host a new library. … A design for the new library hasn’t been settled on yet, but one thing is for sure—at just over 21,000 square feet, the new branch will be significantly smaller than the current one, which is over 60,000 square feet. … The Brooklyn Heights Branch also houses BPL’s Business and Career Library, which won’t be true following the renovations. Once the current branch shutters its doors, the resources provided by the Business and Career Library will be moved three miles southwest to the Library’s Central Branch.

Community Board Approves Redevelopment Plan for Brooklyn Public Library Branch
Source: Ileana Najarro, New York Times, July 16, 2015

A controversial proposed redevelopment plan for the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Heights branch, which includes the construction of affordable housing, received a community board’s approval, with provisions, at a heated meeting on Wednesday evening. The board, which met at St. Francis College, voted 25 to 14 in favor, with four members abstaining. … As part of the proposal, Hudson will also build 114 affordable-housing units in Clinton Hill, Ms. Johnson said. In exchange, the developer would build market-rate condominiums on top of the new library building. … The community board voted to approve the recommendation of the plan with three provisions: that once construction is completed and the new library is fully outfitted, at least $2 million be set aside as a fund to help maintain the library; that the new library have the same amount of usable space as the current one; and that there be a memorandum noting that a community benefits plan that is needed be made.

Saving Schools and Libraries by Giving Up the Land They Sit On
Source: Joseph Berger and Al Baker, New York Times, March 17, 2013

The Brooklyn Heights library is neither the oldest nor the most dilapidated branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system. But the 52-year-old limestone building is nonetheless ripe for demolition. It sits on land that developers crave, in a fashionable neighborhood where housing is in high demand. And so the library system, desperate for money to pay for $230 million in long-deferred repairs for its 60 branches, has embraced a novel financing model that is increasingly being used around New York City as a way to pay for government services. The library, on Cadman Plaza, along with another library near the Barclays Center, would be sold to developers, torn down and then rebuilt at no public expense on the ground floor of a new apartment tower. …

…But the approach has provoked growing protest in the affected communities. Most pressingly, residents are concerned about how far they will have to go to reach a library, and where their children will go to school, during the years it will take to erect the new towers. But they are also worried about the aesthetic and cultural price of replacing local institutions to which they are deeply attached, neighborhood landmarks if not official ones, and having them swallowed up into stacks of concrete, steel and glass. …

…Meanwhile, the New York City Housing Authority, facing the biggest deficits in its history, has proposed letting developers build private, mostly market-rate residential towers on parking lots alongside eight housing projects in Manhattan. The authority would use the resulting lease payments — as much as $60 million a year — to pay for badly needed repairs in the 179,000 apartments it manages….