On Wednesday, July 15, the full board of Community Board 2 will consider the recommendation of its Land Use Committee that the proposed sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library be approved, with three caveats.
After an initial hearing ended in a deadlock, the Land Use Committee voted 8 to 4 on July 6 to approve the controversial $52 million sale and mixed use development.
The proposal would demolish the city-owned library building and replace it with a 36-story, 139-unit luxury residential tower, with a new library occupying the ground floor and some space below the ground. Affordable housing would be placed off-site in Clinton Hill.
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President Linda Johnson says the Brooklyn Heights branch, at 280 Cadman Plaza West, needs $9 million in repairs, has non-accessible space and possesses significant property value, which could be used to benefit other branches in the borough.
Opponents, however, see the sale as the giveaway of public assets for the benefit of developers. The project is one of several large developments planned for the Brooklyn Heights area which, taken together, threaten to overcrowd schools and clog local streets.
The three provisos added by CB2 committee members would require:
1: After the library has been fully constructed and outfitted, a reserve fund of at least $2 million be established for future capital repairs at the branch.
2: That the new branch have the same usable floor space as the existing branch. (There is some fuzziness over exactly what this includes, however.)
3: A Community Benefits Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) be executed as part of the project. These are intended, at minimum, to ensure the developer, the Hudson Companies, keeps its promises that affordable housing be built before breaking ground on the tower, and an interim library be established for use during the multi-year construction of the 36-story project.
The meeting will be held at St. Francis College, Founders Hall, 180 Remsen Street, starting at 6 p.m. Following the board’s vote, the issue will next go to the Borough President, who will hold a public hearing at Borough Hall on Tuesday, August 18, starting at 6 p.m.