New York Times Looks at the Brooklyn Heights Library Plan

The New York Times published a look at the Brooklyn Heights library proposal this weekend:

NYT: But these latest plans for Brooklyn have merit, insofar as City Hall wants to keep leaning on real estate to help pay for basic public services, a policy whose logic, as Donnell proved, can also seem to evaporate when the market shifts.

In Brooklyn Heights, the issue is a dilapidated, low-rise, 62,000-square-foot building on a prime lot at Cadman Plaza, combining a neighborhood branch and a somewhat orphaned business library. It would make way for a 38-story tower with 132 market-rate apartments. The tower’s designer is Jonathan Marvel, the New York architect. A new 21,000-square-foot storefront library would occupy the building’s ground floor. Library officials say much of the existing branch is unused and that moving the business collection to the main library at Grand Army Plaza rationalizes Brooklyn’s holdings. More to the point, they insist the new library will be an upgrade, with stacked auditoriums, a lower-level reading room and a mezzanine that could serve as a children’s wing.

Hudson Companies, the developer, is promising affordable units offsite, a red flag. But offsite development allows for more subsidized units — 114 — than would have been possible at Cadman Plaza, if the library still hoped to make real money. As is, the library pockets $51 million. That’s enough to outfit the new Brooklyn Heights branch; fix the one near Atlantic Yards, called the Pacific branch; and repair two others, Walt Whitman near the Navy Yard, and Washington Irving in Bushwick, leaving millions more for additional projects.

RELATED: All Brooklyn Heights Library Coverage

To give you some perspective on $51 million dollars consider this: Beyoncé made a reported $115 million dollars in 2014.

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  • bethman14

    A great article in the Times that hits the nail on the head. New and better library, paid for by a developer, along with new affordable housing…by my count BPL’s two projects are adding over 160 new units of affordable housing, building 41,000 square feet of new libraries, and making money for the library system. Only the Micheal White and his Tin Foil Hat brigade could possibly oppose this. I’m sure the CDL crowd will be outraged at the Times’ insistence on using actual facts as the basis for their always excellent reporting.

    Too bad BHB felt it necessary to include a pointless and nonsensical editorial commentary on Beyonce’s salary. The connection is what, exactly?

  • Jazz

    If it’s too obtuse, you’re too old.

  • Beth Eisgrau-Heller

    “City Hall wants to keep leaning on real estate to help pay for basic public services.” Great, how about schools? PS8 is already over crowded. There is ZERO discussion about basic infrastructure when one of these new buildings goes up.

  • StoptheChop

    Which is what makes this article so odd. There’s no discussion of the impact of this highrise on local infrastructure (while delegitimizing community residents as stakeholders, who have to bear the brunt of the development)– while actually somewhat criticizing the policy decisions that led to this point (underfunding leading to selling public property for private benefit), and the current policy decision that supports it. It’s there between the lines, of course, but then the reporter just….. shrugs.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    It’s not surprising that the NY Times takes this tone as the paper relies on its real estate advertisers for support. The NY Times supported NYS and SUNY’s corrupt decision to close LICH to make a real estate deal.

  • Mary

    Assuming the deal goes through, and that ‘off-site affordable housing’ qualifies the developer for 80/20 tax status, and that the structure incorporates a modern library, why not designate the square footage that shoulda/coulda been lower-income on-site housing for a new primary school?

  • Justine Swartz

    Current price for a newly built condominium in Brooklyn Heights is 2 Million dollars. The 38 story
    tower with 132 market rate living quarters will rake in 264 million dollars plus at least 50 million each for the Penthouses.
    Yet the Brooklyn Public Library supposedly ‘pockets 51 million dollars’ from this raw deal.
    Brooklyn Heights Community would be better served transforming the unused library space into
    a Public School instead of building a gigantic condominium to cater to the Wealthy.

  • heights res

    Well – I don’t have a tin hat, but……
    I totally oppose the basic assumption that giving away public land for private profit is acceptable (and even desired).

  • Carlotta

    I’m clueless about what a Tin Foil Hat brigade means and sure would like to know since I believe I’m one of them. In my tin head? I think a new and better library can be achieved without selling public property to a private developer and with consideration for a new elementary school.

  • Mary

    A great plan for all in the neighborhood!

    Guess I’m a ‘tin foil hat’ too. Knew a guy years ago that wore one to deflect gamma rays. I’m thinking, he may have had the right idea.

  • realitybasedcommunity

    Uhm the City is selling it and the library is pocketing the profit…last time I checked the library is public, so this is not in any way the city “giving away” public land. Get your facts right

  • bethman14

    Ahh its all a conspiracy. Anyone who disagrees with you is corrupt. Mature.

  • heights res

    Uhm, in response to your snarky comment – Once the land is “sold”, it will no longer be available as a public resource. Don’t think I have any incorrect facts….

  • Reggie

    The fact you have omitted is the new library (if this all goes forward) will be deeded back to the city and therefore remains a public resource.

  • Reggie
  • heights res

    Nice that the City will be allowed to keep a (smaller) library space. But, as Justine Schwarz mentions below:
    “Current price for a newly built condominium in Brooklyn Heights is 2 Million dollars. The 38 story
    tower with 132 market rate living quarters will rake in 264 million dollars plus at least 50 million each for the Penthouses.
    Yet the Brooklyn Public Library supposedly ‘pockets 51 million dollars’ from this raw deal.”

  • Slyone

    Now I realize I’m not entirely clear on something: what is being sold in this deal exactly? Some public resource is being disposed of (that’s why there will be ULURP process); I had thought it was the air rights to allow additional height. Is there something else, too? I suppose I should look this up instead of asking on a blog . . .

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    No, I wouldn’t say that — but anyone who knows what truly went on with SUNY, the NYS DOH, the courts, the newspapers would agree with me. You can see by the “likes” above. Besides, Bethman, I’m familiar with your postings and your pro-real estate position. You’ve been called out on this blog for it many times.

  • Poplar

    My understanding is that the building and the actual land that it is on is owned by the city. If it were sold, the city would no longer own that lot or building (but would own the new library – like it was a condo unit).

  • Justine Swartz

    Forgot to mention there will be up to 5 levels of Parking. Each space could sell for
    hundreds of thousand of dollars. In Manhattan the parking spaces in the newly built Condos have sold for a cool million.

  • Andrew Porter

    Google it… Meanwhile, not one single comment here from Marsha Rimler!

  • bbl21

    The Library did its homework for the Brooklyn Heights Library because of the noise citizens defending libraries made however, what they miss was BPL have absolutely no plans for the Business Library. The plan to move to the Central Library is just fantasy where in the Central Library is there space? That is the real problem with the entire plan. The Business Library will disappear.

  • Justine Swartz

    Marsha’s comments have been banned from
    the BHB. She has plenty to say but BHB is not
    an open forum. Too bad!