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Eric Adams Sets Obstacles for Brooklyn Heights Library Redevelopment

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 10, 2015 10:28am | Updated on September 10, 2015 11:15am
 A rendering of the proposed building by Marvel Architects.
A rendering of the proposed building by Marvel Architects.
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Marvel Architects via CB2

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The controversial Brooklyn Heights Library redevelopment is facing opposition from Borough President Eric Adams, who Wednesday released a slew of recommendations for the project, including more affordable housing and local school seats.

Despite Community Board 2's support for the property's $52 million sale in July, Adams conditionally disapproved the 280 Cadman Plaza West project under the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Adams only has an advisory role in the planning process. 

Hudson Companies, in partnership with Marvel Architects, plans to build a 36-story tower, which will hold 139 condo units and a 21,500-square-foot library operated by the Brooklyn Public Library system. 

The private developer had promised 114 off-site low-income units in Clinton Hill but Adams is pushing to have all affordable housing within the Brooklyn Heights development.

Adams' disapproval comes as another local political leader still hasn't taken a position regarding the project. Local Councilman Steve Levin told Politico New York in July that he had not yet made his decision on the development.

Since the final vote lies with the City Council, Levin's support may be key for the project to move forward. A spokesman said Thursday that Levin was "still in listening mode."  

"We’ll be taking the Borough President’s recommendations under consideration along with all of the public comments and testimony gathered from the community throughout this process," the spokesman said in an email.

Adams, who made his recommendations after months of input from community leaders, said the project needed to address overcrowding in local schools and maintain all residential units related to the development as "permanently affordable."

He also sought to ensure the library doesn't lose its current publicly-accessible floor area while keeping its Business & Career Library, which is currently scheduled to move to the Central Branch.

One of his suggestions included building an elementary school on the site as well as a new annex location for P.S. 8, a highly sought-after school in Brooklyn Heights. The potential annex would also include a gym and lunch room.

To further address school overcrowding, Adams called for the city to establish a task force "to develop a site identification plan that would solve the public school seat shortage in and around Downtown Brooklyn."

“Considering this land use application has been about more than one site or one institution, it represents an opportunity to evaluate the direction of development in Brooklyn Heights and ensure that basic services are met and enhanced," Adams said in a statement. 

The laundry list of recommendations went on to suggest a merger of the Brooklyn Public Library with other library systems as Adams believed "the public library system [in New York City] is not a proper working model" and how libraries have "suffered due to inconsistent and unpredictable funding streams."

He also noted that proceeds from the sale of any air rights related to library sites should be piped to other branches. He called on the Department of City Planning to develop a zoning text change to make those transfers seamless.

Adams' recommendations will be considered by the City Planning Commission on Sept. 22.