Brooklyn Public Library and Fifth Avenue Committee Cut the Ribbon on Historic Sunset Park Library and Apartments

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

100 Percent Affordable Housing Paired with Expanded State-of-the-Art Library  

New Development Model Could Set Precedent for Future Projects Across the City  
Images here.

BROOKLYN, NY - Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) cut the ribbon on the new Sunset Park Library and Apartments. The historic project, the first of its kind in New York City, establishes a new development model under which the creation of 100 percent affordable housing is paired with new and expanded public library facilities. The project is part of an innovative partnership between FAC and BPL, along with New York State Homes and Community Renewal and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and provides the first new affordable housing for families in Sunset Park in 20 years. The Sunset Park project along with Brooklyn Heights Library, which opened in 2022, serve as examples of successful models for co-located housing.  

 “Sunset Park has always been one of our busiest libraries, and we’re thrilled to welcome the neighborhood back to a new space built on a foundation not only of concrete, but of community input, engagement and passion,” said Linda Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “In addition to providing a large, inviting and functional library for visitors to enjoy our programs and collections, the building also provides urgently needed 100 percent affordable housing in Sunset Park — the first collaboration of its kind in the city. We are profoundly grateful to Fifth Avenue Committee for their invaluable partnership, to the State and City of New York, and to our elected officials and other key partners who helped make this project a reality.” 

“FAC is thrilled that the vision to pair 100% affordable housing with a new 21st century public library in Sunset Park has finally become a reality.  This project represents an innovative model to meet urgent affordable housing and modern public library needs in communities across the city.   FAC is deeply grateful to the State and City of New York, our local elected officials, our development partners, many supporters and, above all, for the partnership with Brooklyn Public Library that made this innovative project possible,” said Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee.  

“The Sunset Park Library and Apartments project combines innovation and ingenuity to increase our affordable housing stock while providing this diverse community with an expanded, state-of-the-art library,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Under our administration, New York City is a ‘City of Yes’ — not only saying yes to more affordable housing, but yes to more opportunities in our backyards, neighborhoods, and city. We must use every tool in our toolbox to address and solve our city’s housing crisis. This first-of-its kind project is once again New York City leading the way on how to ‘Get Stuff Done.’”  

Occupying the first two and a half levels of the eight-story building, the state-of-the-art Sunset Park Library spans more than 20,000 square feet, almost twice the size of its predecessor. The new library is bright and comfortable, with an open, flexible design and up-to-date technological infrastructure. Its essential components, including the HVAC system, are all brand-new.    

The new library features the largest dedicated space for teens of any library in the borough, a recording studio, and a community program room available for scheduled community functions both during and outside of library hours. Although the previous library building had outlived its useful life, Sunset Park Library has long been one of Brooklyn’s busiest branches, with attendance and circulation that consistently rank near the top of Brooklyn Public Library’s 60 branches. During construction, library service was provided in space made available by the New York City Police Department.   

Welcoming library patrons into the space are two large-scale murals by Tatiana Arocha, featuring stunning imagined naturescapes as intricate and diverse as the neighborhood itself. In the vestibule of the library, destellos naranjas en la copa de los árboles, 2023 (glimpses of orange between the treetops) is a portrait of an urban forest, combining plants indigenous to Brooklyn with animals from faraway places. Arocha’s second artwork, Antes del amanecer, (Before Dawn), 2023 is featured on the blue wall of the main reading room. It depicts a large, magical tree with two owls. 

The second through eighth floors of the building are occupied by the Sunset Park Apartments, a 100 percent affordable development providing 49 units of permanently affordable housing spread across more than 50,000 square feet of residential space much of which has views of Lower Manhattan and New York Harbor. Half of the apartments are studios and one-bedroom units, and the other half are two- and three-bedroom units, owing to the need for more affordable housing for families. Units are for low- and moderate-income residents who earn between 30% and 80% of Area Median Income. Eight units receive Section 8 subsidies. Nine of the units are set aside for formerly homeless households.   

The building features a second-floor roof deck of approximately 2,000 square feet to provide outdoor space for the residents’ recreational needs and library programming. The laundry room is located directly next to the roof deck to provide natural lighting and easy access to the outdoor space. There is also bicycle storage, high speed internet, and Wi-Fi in common areas, and the building has an on-site superintendent. The project includes a 45-kW rooftop solar array.    

The general contractor for the building is Galaxy GC Group, the building architect is Magnusson Architecture and Planning. The Library fit out general contractor is Shawmut Design and Construction and the architect is Mitchell Giurgola. Total development costs for the residential portion of the building were $36.7 million. Funders for the project include New York State Homes & Community Renewal (NYSHCR) through the National Equity Fund, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), and The Bank of New York Mellon. In addition, the project received funding through the NYC Council and the Brooklyn Borough President, NYS Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA) and permanent funding from the New York City Retirement Systems arranged by the Community Preservation Corporation, and the NYS Homes and Community Renewal Community Investment Fund (CIF).  

Total development costs for the library portion were $17 million – approximately half of what building a similarly sized stand-alone library is estimated to cost. The funding sources included capital funds from Brooklyn Public Library, revenue from the sale of Brooklyn Heights library, and an NYSED State Grant.  

“With 50 new affordable units and a state-of-the-art library, the new Sunset Park Library and Apartments development is the culmination of a vision that not only addresses the pressing needs of our time but also champions the values that make New York City great - diversity, accessibility, and education,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “I am grateful for the leadership of Brooklyn Public Library, Fifth Avenue Committee, and our City and State partners to advance this innovative model of co-located housing and public library resources in the Sunset Park Community, building the foundation for a brighter and more inclusive future.”  

“The Sunset Park Library and Apartments is a crowning achievement that tackles essential community needs and affordable living at a time when New York must urgently address its housing crisis. This historic collaboration between the Brooklyn Public Library and Fifth Avenue Committee exemplifies visionary leadership and prudent financial stewardship because the New York City pension funds provided a mortgage to finance the affordable housing apartments. This project sets a premiere example of responsible investment and community development that Brooklynites can be proud of for decades to come,” said Comptroller Brad Lander.  

“Sunset Park Library and Apartments is what it looks like to build with the public good in mind,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “I’m so proud that Brooklyn is home to this historic, state-of-the-art project that will not only provide 49 units of permanently affordable housing, but also new and expanded public library facilities that will serve as a vital community resource. Thank you to the Brooklyn Public Library, Fifth Avenue Committee, and the many members of the teams that made this accomplishment possible.”  

“The opening of the new Sunset Park library has been long awaited by many in our community,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés (D-Sunset Park). “Libraries provide some of the most key bedrock services that city government has to offer and I’m grateful to BPL and Fifth Avenue Committee for their hard work. Coupling construction with some of the only truly affordable housing created in Sunset Park for many years has meant delivering on spaces our community both deserves and needs. I am honored to have helped bring this project across the finish line, including funding for hundreds of books.”   

"Cutting the ribbon on the new historic Sunset Park Library that also includes deeply, permanently affordable housing is exciting, said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Created through the vision of BPL and the Fifth Avenue Committee, this development should stand as a model for future investments through our city. I'm grateful to everyone who worked for this and hope to see future development inspired by this collaboration."  

"Libraries play a critical role in the development and learning of our youth, aging, and eager learners of our community, and the opening of New Sunset Park Library and Affordable Housing Apartments reinforces our commitment towards the betterment of the public and community. Once open, the library will become the home to many South Brooklyn residents and local groups as a space of escape and growth. The Sunset Park Library will serve as a critical foundation for our community and a reminder of our public commitment to every individual of this world,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes. 

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The Sunset Park Library and Apartments provides 50 comfortable, secure, and affordable homes where families can thrive while also expanding the capacity of the Brooklyn Public Library system to meet the needs of this rapidly growing neighborhood.  Libraries are where New Yorkers can go to learn, interact with neighbors, and discover new opportunities. By including affordable apartments, this innovative public-private partnership will help Sunset Park remain an inclusive and vibrant community. Congratulations to BPL, the Fifth Avenue Committee, and the many other public and private partners who made this new development possible.” 

“Reading and learning leads to more knowledge. More knowledge opens up our horizons and possibilities. The Sunset Park Library and Apartments pairs a world-class library with 100% permanently affordable housing. What a combination! This is the kind of innovative and holistic investment we need to make in our city’s neighborhoods. We’re glad to be part of this and I congratulate the Brooklyn Public Library and Fifth Avenue Committee for your visionary and creative partnership in this project. As a forward-thinking city, we must continue to invest in projects like this that demonstrate our commitment to quality learning and quality living." said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. 

“MAP firmly believes that housing and education are essential foundations for sustainable, thriving communities. We are honored to have had the opportunity to contribute to the realization of this new model for affordable housing which sees these two building blocks realized in a single, repeatable project,” said Christoper Jones, Principal, Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP).  

“Mitchell Giurgola is honored to have collaborated with the BPL and the many other associated stakeholders to design the new Sunset Park Branch, a space that we hope will serve the community for many decades to come. This state-of-the-art library has dedicated adult, children, and teen spaces, as well as a recording studio and a large, flexible community space available both during and after library hours. It has been a pleasure to work closely with the BPL staff to bring this important community anchor to fruition,” said Carol Loewenson, Partner, Mitchell Giurgola.  

“We're grateful for the opportunity to collaborate once again with Brooklyn Public Library to create the new Sunset Park branch,” said David Margolius, Executive Vice President of Shawmut Design and Construction’s New York Metro region. “At Shawmut, we take pride in building spaces that become integral chapters in the stories of our communities. As we turn over this latest branch renovation to our partners at BPL, we're inspired at how it will stand as a cornerstone for generations to come."  

“The completion of the Sunset Park Apartments & Library is the result of innovative thinking and a steadfast commitment to strengthen the Brooklyn community,” said Emily Chen, Managing Director at National Equity Fund. “At NEF, we value collaborating with those who share our vision that all individuals and families have access to affordable homes. Working with Fifth Avenue Committee and the Brooklyn Public Library ensures that we create a brighter future by empowering residents to reach their full potential through housing affordability, literary accessibility and important co-located services.”  

 "This is a huge win for Sunset Park residents and a model for the kind of public-private partnerships that should be replicated across New York City. Congrats to BPL and FAC for coming together to address two of the borough's biggest needs in one project: affordable housing and upgraded libraries that give communities the resources to get ahead,” said Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future.