Plans Move Ahead For New Brooklyn Heights Library & Residential Tower

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Courtesy: Marvel Architects

A “controversial” and “contentious” proposal to replace a neighborhood library and add yet another tower to the Brooklyn skyline is inching forward.

As first reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the Department of Buildings approved plans last month for the construction of a 36-story, 409-foot “luxury” residential building on the site of the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public library.

The new addition to the neighborhood is being developed by Hudson Companies and designed by Marvel Architects. It will have 134 residential units, including two penthouse floors, as well as exercise rooms, a screening room and parking, plus roughly 930 square feet of ground floor retail. The residential units are believed to be condos, according to NY Yimby.

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The building, slated for completion in 2019-2020, will also house a new Brooklyn Heights library branch on its first floor and mezzanine levels. Its residential address will be 1 Clinton Street, and the library’s address will be 280 Cadman Plaza West, the Daily Eagle notes.

The loss of Brooklyn Heights’ existing library has been the subject of great community concern since 2014. As part of the negotiation process with local officials, Hudson Companies agreed to include a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education lab for the local school district in the project, the Daily Eagle reports. It will also build a separate, small library branch in DUMBO.

Hudson’s proposal to purchase the existing library for $52 million was approved by the City Council in 2015. But as of December 29th, 2016, the City had reportedly not approved Hudson’s plans to demolish the building. We are trying to confirm whether this is still the case.

Pre-demolition work, including asbestos removal, is apparently ongoing. Because Hudson had not closed on the site at the end of 2016, the Eagle reported there is an agreement that the developer is “required to restore the site to the pre‐demolition state (minus the asbestos) at its own cost” if the project falls through.

Off-Site Affordable Housing

The 1 Clinton Street/280 Cadman Plaza West project will include 114 units of off-site “inclusionary / workforce” housing to be built on on two privately-owned sites in Clinton Hill: 1041-1047 Fulton Street and 911-917 Atlantic Avenue. This housing will also be designed by Marvel Architects.

A 50 percent preference for the affordable units will be offered to income eligible residents in Community Board 2. Households earning 60 to 125 percent of the Area Median Income will be eligible to apply. Click here for more details on rents and income limits.

Hudson says it has built 2,400 units of affordable housing in 22 projects to date — and “prides itself on producing well-designed and environmentally sustainable buildings.”

A New Library for Brooklyn Heights, and Funds for Other Branches

For the duration of construction, the Brooklyn Heights branch library has been relocated to a temporary space at Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Remsen Street, four blocks from its previous location.

The Business & Career Library, which co-habitated with the Brooklyn Heights branch, is being permanently relocated to the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

Rendering of the proposed Brooklyn Heights public library branch. (Courtesy: Marvel Architects)

Media reports say that the project has shined a spotlight on community concerns about overcrowding in Brooklyn Heights tied to new development projects. Opponents have also charged that the new library is smaller than its predecessor, creating a net loss for the community.

Curbed reports that Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. filed a lawsuit against developer Hudson Companies in an attempt to stop the project, “citing concerns about additional traffic and noise, among other issues.” The suit was dismissed in July, 2016 but an appeal has been filed.

The BPL’s response to such concerns is that at 26,600-square-feet, the Brooklyn Heights library will be the largest branch in Brooklyn, and that the new library actually has more square footage than the space it occupied in its former home.

The BPL also maintains that the sale of its Brooklyn Heights property will generate an estimated $40 million for repairs at other branches, including Walt Whitman, Pacific, Washington Irving and Sunset Park. The Brooklyn Public Library reports that it currently has $300 million in outstanding and unfunded capital needs across the borough.

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