Protesters were shushed by Borough President Eric Adams on Tuesday night as the Brooklyn Borough Board voted to approve the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library.
The vote had been delayed for a month so the board would have more time to review the $52 million sale to developer Hudson Companies, but its outcome was widely expected.
Among its other responsibilities, the Brooklyn Borough Board approves special purpose land use plans for Brooklyn. The board is composed of the Borough President, who serves as chair, the Councilmembers for each district in Brooklyn, and the chairs of Brooklyn’s 18 community boards.
Hudson plans to build a 36-story luxury tower, with a new, smaller Brooklyn Heights branch on the ground floor and below ground. Marvel Architects will design the building. In addition, 114 units of affordable housing will be built in Clinton Hill.
In September, Adams had “disapproved with conditions” the development, as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process.
Among other recommendations, Adams had proposed including elementary school space in the development, affordable housing on-site, and maintaining its current publicly-accessible floor area.
Concessions negotiated by Councilmember Stephen Levin (Brooklyn Heights – Williamsburg – Greenpoint) prior to the City Council’s approval of the sale in December assuaged Adams’ concerns, and he joined the rest of the 16-member Borough Board (with one abstention) in approving the sale.
The improvements to the plan negotiated by Levin include a larger library than originally proposed (26,600 square feet), a 9,000-square-foot STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education center, and a 5,000-square-foot library branch in DUMBO.
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) says that roughly $40 million of the proceeds will fund improvements at other branches including Walt Whitman, Pacific, Washington Irving and Sunset Park.
After the City Council approval, BPL President Linda Johnson said that the library system had been underfunded for years.
“The City Council’s approval of the Brooklyn Heights Library project is a victory for the thousands of Brooklyn residents who rely on their public libraries for essential programs, services, and resources,” she said. “The benefits extend to communities throughout the borough, as BPL will now be able to deliver much-needed funding for other branches in disrepair.”
While the vote is in, an advocacy group says the fight is not yet over. On Tuesday, the organization Love Brooklyn Libraries! (LBL!) filed a complaint with the United States Attorney’s Office over the sale.
LBL! contends that Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has been misrepresenting its capital funds in order to facilitate a real estate grab.