BHA Speaks Out on Brooklyn Heights Library with “Concern and Cautious Optimism”

The Brooklyn Heights Association has responded to the Brooklyn Public Library’s redevelopment of its Brooklyn Heights Branch.

Last month, the BPL announced that Marvel Architects and Hudson Companies were its development team of choice for the library site.

Here’s the BHA’s response:

The BHA is responding with concern and cautious optimism to the Brooklyn Public Library’s (“BPL”) selection of Hudson Companies/Marvel Architects for redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

We believe that the project, as outlined in the original Request for Proposals, has the potential to make a significant contribution–if the developers and BPL trustees will take the time to re-evaluate their design, and engage in an open process with the broader library and civic center community. The current design gives no indication that the building houses an important civic institution – the 21st century descendant of the legendary Carnegie Libraries. Instead, what we are seeing is a clunky condominium sitting atop generic retail space. We want to see a distinctive and welcoming public building that provides a graceful transition from the civic buildings on Cadman Plaza to the residences of Brooklyn Heights – a library that is a visual gateway to the neighborhood.

Moreover, the project can and should address broader community priorities. The decision to assign considerable square footage to an exclusive private school gymnasium does not reflect the inclusive mission of our public library system. Community or public school space is called for in lieu of a private school gym.

Our optimism stems from the knowledge that these two firms are local businesses whose partners are well acquainted with our neighborhood: Jonathan Marvel has the ability to design a new building which truly addresses the complexities of this project on such an important site. Hudson Companies has an established track record for project completion –including affordable housing components.

We are pleased by Hudson/Marvel’s commitment to provide interim service during construction of the new library, which was a clear requirement in the RFP. The off-site affordable housing, which must be within Community District 2 boundaries, will allow for a less bulky building on this constricted site. It is an important BPL condition that the condominium certificate of occupancy be tied to the completion of the affordable housing component.

BPL trustees have said, “This is the beginning.” That is indeed true in the sense that the city’s public land use review process (ULURP) has not yet begun. Going forward, we expect our Brooklyn Heights Association members and all library neighbors and users to comment constructively towards the goal of housing a light-filled, welcoming library, in an exceptionally well designed new building. We’ll need everyone’s help to get us there.

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  • gatornyc

    It is not the developer’s responsibility to assure that public services are adequate. That is the City’s responsibility and, to date, it has been an epic failure by the City to enlarge public services in the Downtown Brooklyn and surrounding areas to address the population growth and development.

  • gatornyc

    Yet again when you are unable to respond to the arguments made, you resort to trying to “out” people on the blog as if somehow the arguments have less merit because the poster prefers not to use his/her real name. Your posts certainly have no more weight because you choose to us your real name.

  • Banet

    Agreed with GatorNYC.

    While this building — or any other — certainly adds to the need for public services from fire to school to subway, no one *individual* building should be told “sorry, the neighborhood is overtaxed.”

    All the people who use the overcrowding of P.S. 8 as an objection to this building should focus their energies on lobbying their elected officials and the School Construction Authority for a new school in our district.

  • marshasrimler

    not true.. if you really believe in what you say you should identify yourself. I have rationally responded to arguments. what do you have to say about the subject rather than try to tear lie down.

  • marshasrimler

    and where shall it be.?

  • Greg

    You are not in a position to say this. Please stop, and show your fellow peers some dignity and respect. Thank you.

  • marshasrimler

    i am not insulting anyone as far as i can tell. just feel people should show their faces and give their names as I do. What are they afraid of. Obviously they have strong opinions. I do not understand why they hide
    Respectfully yours

  • Jazz

    LICH. They should make LICH a school.

  • Slyone

    I’m not using this as an “objection.” I’m uncertain about the proposed library plan – there aspects I like, aspects I don’t. What I do know is that our public school is already overcrowded as a result of some combination of its success and new residential construction in recent years. It cannot support just the homes we already have. New residential construction needs to be accompanied by a plan for addressing this issue. I think you’re right that it’s an issue for elected officials and others who have a say in approving how and with what conditions new development happens. So we should ask them about it whenever new residential construction is being approved in the PS8 zone. I think these are exactly the kinds of issues that should be addressed as part of a public approval process.

  • marshasrimler

    Where is there vacant land for a school?.. The huge building on Montague st. will have children, the apts on pier 6(if built) and the library site (if built) will have children,, The new condos in the old police headquarters in the north heights will have children.Also the rest of the watchtower buildings when converted to residential will have children and the LICH site being developed will have children
    This is the responsibility of the City of New York where we live and pay taxes. Where is there land in the Heights for a school?

  • johnny cakes

    stuart…. Is that really you? Or just some hack.

  • johnny cakes

    It was a school for 140-years.

  • johnny cakes

    So, bethman14 got new batteries. Run, baby, run. Make that money.

  • marshasrimler

    spelling and grammar.. my dear…… its Rimler

  • Banet

    Where can a school go? In any one of those condo buildings you just mentioned. A school doesn’t have to be a free-standing building. It can easily go on a few floors of a condo. The only problem is lack of outdoor space but there are solutions to that as well.

  • Banet

    Where can a school go? In any one of those condo buildings you just mentioned.

    A school doesn’t have to be a free-standing building. It can easily go on a few floors of a condo. The only problem is lack of outdoor space but there are solutions to that as well.

    Also, a commenter below mentions the LICH site — the city could buy a portion of that land and build a perfectly located school — halfway between PS 8 and PS 29.

  • marshasrimler

    yes.. we can build higher and denser and higher and denser and build mini schools and mini libraries

  • marshasrimler

    but why give away public land and then do the dance you suggest just to enrich developers and then spend public funds to buy land or space.. lets use the space we have now.. public space.. we need a school now .. not whenever