Brooklyn Heights Project
Across the system, Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) 60 libraries have an estimated $300 million in deferred capital needs. Nearly every one of BPL’s branches has maintenance issues. We need to replace HVAC systems, boilers and roofs, make safety and security enhancements, and embark on interior renovations, among countless other projects. Unfortunately, BPL receives an average of only $14 million a year from the City to maintain its buildings.
Out of all of BPL’s libraries, Brooklyn Heights Library has some of the greatest capital needs. Built in 1962, it has more than $9.2 million in deferred capital maintenance, including an estimated $3.5-$4.5 million to replace a non-functioning HVAC system. Additionally, the building is poorly designed, has an inefficient floor plan that hinders public service and more than 50% of its space is unavailable for public use.
The Brooklyn Heights Project
To address these challenges, BPL is pursuing a unique opportunity in Brooklyn Heights that will:
- Develop an inspiring, relevant, and state-of-the-art library facility
- Eliminate millions of dollars in unmet capital needs
- Raise funds for branches across Brooklyn
BPL plans to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights Library in partnership with a private developer. In June, in collaboration with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, BPL released a Request For Proposals (RFP) to identify a development partner for Brooklyn Heights. Additionally, the Library is closely working with its Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to gather community input and identify the neighborhood’s needs.
For more information about the Brooklyn Heights Project, please click the tabs at the top of the screen. You may also contact BPL at BrooklynHeightsProject@brooklynpubliclibrary.org.
About the Brooklyn Heights Library
Built in 1962, Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) Brooklyn Heights branch is home to both the Brooklyn Heights Library and the Business & Career Library (B&CL). The building is BPL’s largest branch and is the only one to house two distinct libraries.
Will the Brooklyn Heights branch remain open?
Yes. BPL is working on a plan to use the value of its Brooklyn Heights real estate to fund the development of a brand new, state-of-the art library in the same location as the current branch. To achieve this, BPL will have the current Brooklyn Heights Library building sold to a development partner who will construct a residential development and build a new library. The City of New York will sell the property through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. This project will allow BPL to deliver a 21st-century library facility the Brooklyn Heights community and our staff deserve, at little cost to BPL. BPL will not abandon the Brooklyn Heights community and is dedicated to continuing our long tradition of providing exceptional library service to the neighborhood.
Can the existing Brooklyn Heights Library be repaired?
The Brooklyn Heights branch faces over $9M in capital needs, including an estimated $3.5M to replace the air conditioning system. BPL does not currently have access to the funding necessary to meet the building’s infrastructure needs, let alone renovate the increasingly dated interior or upgrade the furnishings and collections. This capital need is part of the over $300M in capital needs at all 60 of BPL’s libraries throughout the borough. By working with a development partner, BPL can provide a better, modern Library in Brooklyn Heights at a lower cost.
What’s happening to the Business & Career Library?
BPL has long planned to relocate the B&CL to the Central Library. Once relocated, jobseekers and entrepreneurs, many of whom live and work outside the downtown Brooklyn area, will enjoy the expanded hours, interdisciplinary resources, and modern work and study spaces that the Central Library provides. Many of the B&CL’s programs will take place in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons, Brooklyn Public Library’s newest space for collaborative learning. Additionally, relocating to a more central location will provide access to this resource for all of Brooklyn.
How long will this process take?
Selling the Brooklyn Heights branch will involve a rigorous public review and review by our local elected officials. In 2013, BPL staff will continue to present our vision for the branch to the community at community board meetings and other forums. We expect to enter into a contract with a development partner in 2014. It is anticipated that the review and approval will take approximately one to two years, during which time the branch will remain open at its current location. BPL is committed to maintaining service in Brooklyn Heights throughout this project and will provide a temporary service location for the duration of the construction period.
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has sought the community's involvement in every phase of the Brooklyn Heights project. In February 2013, BPL convened a Community Advisory Committee (CAC), comprised of local elected officials and representatives from five community organizations and tenant groups, to provide community input about the project. BPL is committed to working with the CAC to build a new Brooklyn Heights Library that reflects the community's needs, is the best branch possible, and generates additional capital dollars that can be reinvested in branch libraries throughout the borough. We encourage all those who are interested to attend our CAC meetings in the Brooklyn Heights Auditorium and voice their ideas and concerns.
Brooklyn Heights Association
Brooklyn Public Library
Community Board 2
DUMBO Neighborhood Association
Friends of Brooklyn Heights Library
Fulton Ferry Landing Association
Council Member Stephen Levin
Borough President Marty Markowitz
Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Senator Daniel L. Squadron
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez
In June, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to select a development partner for the construction of the new Brooklyn Heights Library. RFP responses were received on September 20 and the seven proposals still being considered are shown below.
For more information about the Brooklyn Heights project, please see the following reports and presentations:
Cost Estimates and Finances
Business & Career Center
MOU between Brooklyn Public Library and The City of New York
Center for an Urban Future
Branches of Opportunity Report (January 2013)
Brooklyn Public Library has testified before the New York City Council and the New York State Assembly about its plans to build a better Brooklyn Heights Library. Copies of the testimonies are available below.
Capital Construction Needs - New York City Council Hearing
BPL's testimony - September 30, 2013
The Sale of Public Libraries in New York City - New York State Assembly Hearing
BPL's testimony - June 27, 2013