Brooklyn Heights Project
Generating $40m for repairs at other branches, including Walt Whitman, Pacific, Washington Irving and Sunset Park
What is the status of the Brooklyn Heights Library project?
After a two-year-long public process, the Brooklyn Heights Library project was approved by Community Board 2, the City Planning Commission, the New York City Council and the Brooklyn Borough Board.
What is the timeline for the construction of the new Brooklyn Heights Library?
BPL expects to begin construction on the new Brooklyn Heights Library in fall 2016. The Library’s contract with Hudson stipulates that the new branch be built within 3.5 years.
Interim library service is being provided in the social hall of Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street (four blocks from 280 Cadman Plaza West). A flier with more information is available here.
The Business & Career Library relocated to Central Library in June 2016, operating in an interim location until its permanent home opens in 2017. A flier with more information is available here.
How will the project benefit the community?
The redevelopment of 280 Cadman Plaza West will build a beautiful, modern library in Brooklyn Heights. At 26,620 square feet, the new branch will be the largest in Brooklyn. The new Brooklyn Heights Library, owned by the City of New York, will anchor a mixed-use building topped by market-rate condominiums. The project will generate $40m for repairs at other branches throughout the borough while creating 100+ affordable housing units in CB2.
Will the community have library service while the branch is closed?
Yes. The interim Brooklyn Heights Library, located at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street, opened in July 2016. The interim space was completely fitted out by the developer at no cost to Brooklyn Public Library.
Resources available at the interim library include a curated collection for Brooklyn Heights; 30 laptops for adults and children, plus two First Five Years desktop computers; an adaptable program room for movies, presentations and performances; and the same experienced, dedicated Brooklyn Heights Library staff currently serving the community.
What’s happening to the Business & Career Library?
The Business & Career Library relocated to Central Library in June 2016, where it will operate in an interim location until its permanent home opens in 2017. The B & CL’s hours of service increased by more than 30%, and its interim location offers all current Business & Career Library services—plus access to Central Library’s resources.
BPL has long planned to relocate the B & CL to Central Library. Jobseekers and entrepreneurs, many of whom live and work outside the downtown Brooklyn area, can now enjoy the expanded hours, interdisciplinary resources, and modern work and study spaces that Central Library provides. Many of the B&CL’s programs take place in the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons, Brooklyn Public Library’s newest space for collaborative learning. Relocation to a more central location have made this resource more accessible to all of Brooklyn.
The new Brooklyn Heights Library will host a 3,000-square-foot, technology-rich workspace designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, established and aspiring business owners, creative professionals, freelancers from various fields and members of the general public. The area will offer collaborative meeting spaces for specialized trainings and one-on-one consultation services. It will host computer workstations with a rich suite of productivity tools for the business and creative communities, and library staff will work with partner organizations to deliver a wide range of programming in this environment.
Could the existing Brooklyn Heights Library have been repaired?
The Brooklyn Heights branch faces over $9M in unfunded capital needs, including an estimated $3.5M to $4.5M to replace the HVAC system. BPL does not 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 an estimated $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 no cost to the rest of the system.
How big is the current Brooklyn Heights Library?
|Total Public Space & Utility||15,050||12,172||0||27,222|
|Total Staff Space & Utility||2,421||2,788||0||5,209|
|Subtotal: Programmed Space||17,471||14,960||0||32,431|
|Total Above Ground Mechanical & Other||1,483||1,483||0||2,966|
|Unprogrammed Space (Fallout Shelter)||0||0||17,527||17,527|
|Cellar Mechanical & Other||0||0||6,222||6,222|
|TOTAL: Current Library Area Breakdown||18,954||16,443||23,749||59,146|
How large will the new branch be?
At 26,620 square feet, the new branch will be the largest in Brooklyn, with more publicly accessible space than any other branch.
How much will the project generate for BPL, and how will the funds be used?
The developer’s purchase price is $52M. This figure does not include the cost to build the core and shell of the new branch, the cost to fit out the interim branch during construction, or any rental fees incurred during that period – all of which will also be paid for by the developer. We anticipate the fit out of the new Brooklyn Heights branch to cost approximately $12M, leaving approximately $40M in proceeds to fund capital projects in other branches throughout Brooklyn.
Proceeds from the project will address a significant portion of Brooklyn Public Library’s $300M in outstanding and unfunded capital needs. Considerations in the allocation of these funds include:
The overall outstanding critical needs of each branch library
The opportunity for comprehensive upgrades
Geographic equity in the distribution of funds
Projects to be funded include:
- Walt Whitman: $6M for branch modernization and infrastructure upgrade
- Pacific: $3.5M for a new ADA-compliant entry and other accessibility improvements
- Washington Irving: $5M for an infrastructure upgrade
- Sunset Park: $8M for the fit-out of a new, larger branch in conjunction with an affordable housing project
- Ulmer Park: $3M for interior renovations and a new HVAC system
- Leonard: $3M for ADA accessibility
- Kings Bay: $4M for an infrastructure upgrade and exterior rehabilitation
- DUMBO/Vinegar Hill/Farragut Houses: $2M for a new, approximately 5,000-square-foot library
- Greenpoint: Funds in reserve for the new library/environmental education center
This funding will in turn free up BPL’s annual funding for projects in other branches throughout the borough.
Is there affordable housing?
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has unveiled plans for the new Brooklyn Heights Library, a project that also will generate approximately $40M in capital funding to repair other BPL branches with urgent capital needs, and create 114 units of affordable housing. Please click here for more information on affordable housing at this project.
How would you plan your new Brooklyn Heights branch library?
See the results of the First Planning Workshop
See the results of the Second Planning Workshop
Interested in having a say? See what was presented at the Third Planning Workshop and leave feedback online!
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 Eric Adams
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Senator Daniel L. Squadron
Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez
In June 2013, in a partnership with the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Library released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a development partner for Brooklyn Heights. In September 2013, BPL and EDC began reviewing the numerous responses and evaluating the developers based on a number of criteria. Together, they formed a six-person Selection Committee. In December 2013, BPL made public and solicited feedback on the seven finalists. In September 2014, the Board of Trustees voted to endorse the selection of the Hudson Companies as the Library’s development partner.
After a two-year-long public process, the Brooklyn Heights Library project was approved by Community Board 2, the City Planning Commission, the New York City Council and the Brooklyn Borough Board. BPL expects to begin construction on the new Brooklyn Heights Library in fall 2016. The Library’s contract with Hudson stipulates that the new branch be built within 3.5 years.
Interim library service is being provided at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street. The interim space was completely fitted out by the developer at no cost to Brooklyn Public Library. Its resources include a curated collection for Brooklyn Heights; 30 laptops for adults and children, plus two First Five Years desktop computers; an adaptable program room for movies, presentations and performances; and the same experienced, dedicated Brooklyn Heights Library staff currently serving the community.
The Business & Career Library relocated to Central Library in June 2016, where it will operate in an interim location until its permanent home opens in 2017.
- June 2016: Business & Career Library relocates to Central Library.
- July 2016: Interim Brooklyn Heights Library opens.
- Fall 2016: Construction begins on new Brooklyn Heights Library
- 2017: Permanent Business & Career Library space opens at Central Library
- 2019-20: New Brooklyn Heights Library opens at 280 Cadman Plaza West
Across the system, Brooklyn Public Library’s (BPL) 60 libraries have an estimated $300 million in unmet 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 $15 million a year from the City to maintain its buildings.
Out of all of BPL’s libraries, the Brooklyn Heights branch faces some of the greatest capital challenges. Built in 1962, it has more than $9.2 million in unfunded needs, including an estimated $3.5-$4.5 million to replace a non-functioning HVAC system. Additionally, the building is poorly designed and has an inefficient floor plan that hinders public service, with more than 50% of its space is unavailable for public use.
The Brooklyn Heights Project
To address these challenges, BPL pursued 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
For more information about the Brooklyn Heights Project, please click the tabs at the top of the screen. You may also contact BPL at BrooklynHeightsProj@bklynlibrary.org.
For more information about the Brooklyn Heights project, please see the following reports and presentations:
Cost Estimates and Finances
Branch Usage and Floor Plans
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