BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Federal and city prosecutors are reportedly investigating the controversial $52 million sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library following allegations that Mayor Bill de Blasio gave preferential treatment to developer Hudson Companies.
The offices of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. have sent subpoenas to several of the 14 developers that bid on the project, two of which outbid Hudson Companies, according to the New York Post.
While Second Development Services and Toll Brothers offered the city $6 million and $1 million more, respectively, for the site, the library chose Hudson Companies, whose president David Kramer has been friend of the mayor’s for more than a decade, and has given more than $9,000 to de Blasio’s campaigns since 2007, reports the Post.
Toll Brothers President David Von Spreckelsen has been subpoenaed, while Kramer has not, the report says. It wasn’t clear who else had received a subpoena.
Bharara’s office did not immediately answer request for comment and Vance’s office declined comment.
The reported investigation is the latest in a federal corruption probe into the mayor’s campaign fundraising practices.
But a spokesman for de Blasio said the mayor’s office is unaware of any investigations into the Brooklyn Heights Library Project.
The Brooklyn Public Library chose Hudson Companies in 2014 to develop condos and a new neighborhood library at the site after releasing a request for proposals the previous year.
The proposal from Hudson Companies included a larger library, more affordable housing units and an earlier construction timeline than other bidders’ proposals, according to the mayor’s office.
Hudson Companies also offered to build affordable housing units within the borough, which other bidders did not, according to the mayor’s office.
"The City worked with the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to relocate to an improved facility while freeing up crucial space for affordable housing in the neighborhood — a project that passed through a thorough public approval process including sign-off from the City Council,” said Austin Finan, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, in a statement.
“The RFP process for this project followed a strict protocol. Hudson Companies was awarded the contract meritoriously as its bid provided the best overall package for the library and the community at large, including the most affordable housing."
The final plan was approved by the City Council last year after tense closed-door negotiations between elected officials, and includes reconstruction of the Brooklyn Heights Library, a new library for DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, 114 new affordable units in Clinton Hill and a new STEM lab for District 13 students.
Construction on the new Brooklyn Heights Library is slated to begin this fall and is expected to be completed in three and a half years.