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Brooklyn Heights Library Development Plan Includes 114 Affordable Units

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 16, 2014 6:22pm
 The Brooklyn Public Library is expected to approve a $52 million proposal from Hudson Companies that would build 114 affordable housing units in Community Board 2.
Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn Heights
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Public Library has tentatively chosen a developer for its Brooklyn Heights branch with plans to build more than 100 off-site affordable housing units, officials said.

The controversial library property, located at 280 Cadman Plaza West, would be sold to the Hudson Companies for $52 million to develop condos and a new neighborhood library at the site in partnership with Marvel Architects.

The proposal includes a development with at least 30 stories, 132 residential units and a 21,000-square-foot library at the original site, first reported by Capital New York.

Under the plan, the developers promise to build 114 off-site affordable housing units totaling 70,000 square feet somewhere within the area including Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Clinton Hill, DUMBO, Fort Greene, Vinegar Hill and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The locations of the affordable units have not yet been determined, BPL President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

BPL’s board of trustees is expected to approve Hudson’s proposal for Brooklyn Heights Tuesday evening.

Since the city owns the library property, the transaction will take place between the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the developer. The city will then give the sale proceeds to BPL, Johnson said.

“We will build a library that this community deserves,” she said. 

Built in 1962, the Brooklyn Heights branch requires more than $9 million in repair work. The redevelopment plan would wipe away that cost but residents have long spoken out against selling the library to private developers.

The building currently houses the neighborhood branch and a Business & Career library, which would move to BPL’s central branch in Grand Army Plaza.

The BPL will use $10 million of the $52 million to design and create its new Brooklyn Heights library within 21,000 square feet at Cadman Plaza.

The rest will be used for capital needs projects at the Pacific, Walt Whitman and Washington Irving branches.

Library officials hope to begin the project in 2016 and estimate a timeline of three-and-a-half years.

Hudson Companies will pay for the library’s interim operation at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, located at 113 Remsen St., during construction. The total cost to Hudson will be $61 million, including the new library branch and the funding the interim space.

But until the affordable housing units are built and ready for use, the market-rate units at the library property will not be occupied, Johnson said. She anticipated Hudson announcing locations of the affordable units in the next few months.

The new library would include a community room and a 11,000 square-foot gymnasium for St. Ann’s School that will possibly be open for community use.

While library officials expect that the building will not exceed 30 stories, there are no zoning regulations to stop Hudson from building higher.

The new developers will have to go through the city’s uniform land use review procedure. The sale transaction cannot close until the ULURP process is complete.

UPDATE: The Brooklyn Public Library's board of trustees unanimously voted to approve Hudson Companies' proposal for the Brooklyn Heights branch Tuesday night. 

Editor's note: The Brooklyn Public Library incorrectly stated the proposed number of floors for the development. It is 30, not 20 stories. The above story has been updated to reflect that.