Western Brooklyn

City Considers Eminent Domain To Seize Property For McKinley Park Library Branch

Source: BPL
Source: BPL

The Brooklyn Public Library is pursuing a bid to buy the property currently leased for the McKinley Park branch (6802 Fort Hamilton Parkway), but has struggled to strike a deal with the landlord. The city is now considering going over the landlord’s head using the power of eminent domain to seize it for the public’s good.

The Daily News reports:

The Brooklyn Public Library is making a bid to seize the Dyker Heights building that houses its McKinley Park branch, threatening to use the power of eminent domain after the owners scoffed at its $2.4 million offer to buy the property.

… The library’s $20,000-per-month lease for the McKinley Park branch expires in June. If the city takes it over, the library would save money on rent and utilities.

The McKinley branch is one of just seven in the 60-branch system that remains on private land. The city is also hoping to buy the property that houses the Gravesend branch (303 Avenue X) when its lease comes up this year.

According to the paper, the city made its offer in September. It’s owned by a trust overseen by an Arizona-based bank, which has been raising rents in recent years in an attempt to bring it to market rate. That’s been an increased burden for the cash-strapped system.

Brooklyn Paper notes that the leasing agreement has caused the library to delay needed maintenance work:

The library has been putting off more than $5 million in needed plumbing work, roof repairs, window replacement and other basic repairs at McKinley for years to avoid investing scarce resources in a facility it does not own.

Eminent domain allows the government to seize private property to be used for the public interest. The owner of the property is paid “fair market value” in such a case.

McKinley Park branch originally opened in 1911 at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 70th Street in a 1,500 square foot storefront. It opened in its current 7,425 square foot location in 1959 and was renovated in 1995.

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  1. What’s to stop the city from seizing the property, closing the branch, and then giving a sweetheart deal to developers?

  2. Put the library a block away in Leif Ericson Park, or in its namesake park. People can enjoy the WiFi in the park.

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