CITY HALL — The City Council on Wednesday voted to approve a $52 million plan to sell the Brooklyn Heights Library to become a 36-story luxury condo that will still have space for a library.
In a 45 to one vote with three abstentions, the Council approved the controversial sale of the branch at 280 Cadman Plaza West to developer Hudson Companies in partnership with Marvel Architects, which will be designing the building.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has to sign the deal before it can take effect, will support the deal, his office said.
The City Council's land use committee greenlit the proposal last week after Councilman Stephen Levin finally threw his support behind it. The newly-negotiated deal, which Levin called "significantly better," resulted from tense closed-door discussions in the hours before the committee meeting.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a very difficult process. It has been a very controversial project,” Levin said Wednesday.
The rebuilt Brooklyn Heights public library will be 26,620 square feet, which is larger than what the developer had originally proposed but smaller than the existing branch. According to BPL, the current usable space in the present building is 32,431 square feet, out of which 27,222 square feet are publicly accessible.
The deal also allocates 9,000 square-feet for city-run STEM education labs within the high rise plus a new 5,000 square-foot library in the DUMBO/Vinegar Hill area.
Brooklyn Public Library CEO Linda Johnson hailed the vote as "a victory for the thousands of Brooklyn residents who rely on their public libraries for essential programs, services, and resources."
As part of the deal, Hudson has also pledged to build 114 below-market-rate rental housing in Clinton Hill.
Before Hudson can close the existing Brooklyn Heights branch, the developer must open an interim library in the community to prevent any interruption of services, Levin said after the vote.
That temporary library will be located at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, at 113 Remsen St.
"My expectation is sometime in the late spring is when they should be closing," Levin said.
The controverial plan has drawn ire from local community members and advocates for libraries. Public Advocate Letitia James and First Deputy Comptroller Alaina Gilligo have also voiced their concerns.
Marilyn Berkon was part of a small group of opponents, known as Citizens Defending Libraries, who attended the City Council session and booed councilmembers during the vote.
Berkon, who has lived in Brooklyn Heights for several decades, criticized Levin and Brooklyn Public Library for negotiating with Hudson Companies.
"There should never have been private developers nosing around our property," she said.
"This is my library," Berkon added. "Nothing is wrong with it and they're tearing it down."