Today the City Council’s Land Use Committee approved the plan to demolish the existing Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and replace it with a new library in a high rise residential and commercial building to be built on the site, with a temporary library to be available in the Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral building during construction. This effectively clears the way for the project, as the full City Council is unlikely to vote it down given the support of Council Member Stephen Levin, in whose district the library is located, and that Mayor de Blasio also favors it.
Announcing his support for the deal, Levin listed a number of concessions that he said “significantly improve” the project. The size of the new Brooklyn Heights Branch will will be expanded by 24%, from 21,500 square feet to 26,620 square feet. In addition, a new 5,000 square foot library will be built to serve the DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, and Farragut Houses communities. The Brooklyn Heights Branch will include a 3,000 square foot Technology and Business Services Center, to be developed by BPL in partnership with local business and entrepreneurship groups. BPL will commit to seven day a week service at the Brooklyn Heights Branch, and will maintain “robust programming” at the new library, entering into “a public process to gather community feedback on programming needs.” There will also be a recapture provision that will allow BPL to share in any profit above a benchmark rate of return.
Other new provisions include setting aside 9,000 square feet of the new building, outside of the library space, “for dedicated STEM education labs administered by the NYC Department of Education and serving students in Brooklyn’s Community School District 13″; reduction of the Area Minimum Income limits for the affordable housing units to be constructed by the developer in Community District 2; and an agreement on labor standards that is acceptable to the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and SEIU 32BJ.