Brooklyn Heights Project

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Designed to meet the needs of patrons
Designed to meet the needs of its patrons, with flexible spaces for books, programs and technology
A beautiful, modern library
A beautiful, modern library, owned by the City of New York
a 21,5000-square-foot-facility
A 26,600-square-foot facility with more public space than any other branch in Brooklyn

 

Designed to meet the needs of patrons
Generating $40m for repairs at other branches, including Walt Whitman, Pacific, Washington Irving and Sunset Park

 

A beautiful, modern library
Creating 100+ affordable housing units
a 21,5000-square-foot-facility
Providing interim library space — no interruption in service to the community

 

Send an email to support this project

 

About the Brooklyn Heights Library Photo of 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 the only BPL branch to house two distinct libraries.

What is the status of the Brooklyn Heights project?

On December 16, 2015, the New York City Council voted to approve the redevelopment of 280 Cadman Plaza, the final step in a public review process that included votes by Community Board 2, the City Planning Commission, and Council’s Land Use Committee. With the ULURP process now nearly complete, BPL expects to begin construction on the new Brooklyn Heights Library in spring 2016. The Library’s contract with Hudson stipulates that the new branch be built within 3.5 years. 

Will the Brooklyn Heights branch remain open?

Yes. Hudson Companies has identified an interim space for the branch library only five blocks from the current location.  The interim space will be completely fit out by the developer at low cost to Brooklyn Public Library.  While construction of the new Brooklyn Heights branch and residential tower takes place, patrons will have access to the interim branch with no interruption in service.  The interim location will be at our Lady of Lebanon church, located at 95 Remsen Street. Click here for the proposed layout.

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 - $4.5M 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 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?
  BH Branch B&CL Unpro-grammed TOTAL
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.

What’s happening to the Business & Career Library?

BPL has long planned to relocate the B&CL to Central Library. Once it is 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 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. Relocation to a more central location will make 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. 

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 $12-14M, leaving approximately $38-40M 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.

CAC Members

Brooklyn Heights Association

Brooklyn Public Library

Cadman Towers

Community Board 2

Concord Village

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

Brooklyn Heights Developer Announcement

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.

Related Information

280 Cadman Website

Complete ULURP Application

Environmental Assessment Statement

Project Status

On December 16, 2015, the New York City Council voted to approve the redevelopment of 280 Cadman Plaza, the final step in a public review process that included votes by Community Board 2, the City Planning Commission, and Council’s Land Use Committee. With the ULURP process now nearly complete, BPL expects to begin construction on the new Brooklyn Heights Library in spring 2016. The Library’s contract with Hudson stipulates that the new branch be built within 3.5 years.

The Challenge

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 has 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

BPL is redeveloping the Brooklyn Heights Library in collaboration with a developer. 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.

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

Brooklyn Heights All-in Renovation Costs

Brooklyn Heights Library Conceptual Estimate

Brooklyn Public Library's Overall Estimated Capital Construction Needs

Brooklyn Public Library's Overall Finances

BPL Overall Capital Funding FY08-FY13

Branch Usage and Floor Plans

Community Advisory Committee presentation - March 9, 2015

2012 Branch Usage Summary

Spreadsheet of Branch Usage

Brooklyn Heights - Existing Branch Floor Plans

Brooklyn Heights - Analysis of Existing Branch Space

HVAC Assessment

Brooklyn Heights Library HVAC System Survey Assessment Report

Department of Design and Construction (DDC) HVAC Cost Estimates

Business & Career Center

Central Library's Business & Career Center

User Survey

MOU between Brooklyn Public Library and The City of New York

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Center for an Urban Future

Branches of Opportunity Report (January 2013)

Project RFP

RFP Summary

RFP Submission Briefing

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

Spreadsheet of Estimated Capital Needs

The Sale of Public Libraries in New York City - New York State Assembly Hearing

BPL's testimony - June 27, 2013