Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Development Will Fund More Than $40M in Repairs for Neighborhood Libraries Across the Borough, Create 114 Units of Affordable Housing in the Community

The Hudson Companies to Build State-of-the-Art New Library as Part of Mixed Use Building

Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has unveiled plans for the new Brooklyn Heights Library, a project that also will generate more than $40M in capital funding to repair other BPL branches with urgent capital needs, and create 114 units of affordable housing. The state-of-the-art, 21,000 square foot library – one of the largest in the BPL system – will be part of a mixed use building at 280 Cadman Plaza West to be developed by the Hudson Companies, Inc. The selection of Hudson Companies as the development partner, resulting from a Request for Proposals originally issued by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), was approved by the BPL Board of Trustees at their meeting Tuesday night.

The project will benefit library users throughout the borough. More than $40M from the $52M sale will be invested in neighborhood branches with urgent capital needs, significantly reducing the current $300 million in deferred maintenance across BPL’s 60-branch system. BPL has identified three libraries that will be among those receiving funds from the project: Walt Whitman, which will receive $6M for upgraded infrastructure and branch modernization; Pacific, which will receive $3.5M for a new entry and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and Washington Irving, which will receive $4M for upgraded infrastructure. Branches receiving proceeds from the project will be chosen based on their overall outstanding critical needs, the opportunity for comprehensive upgrades, and their spread across the borough.

“In the face of strong demand for our services and an aging infrastructure that is costly to maintain, Brooklyn Public Library is working creatively to ensure that our spaces and services meet the changing needs of our patrons. This project will help us create a beautiful, modern library to serve the Brooklyn Heights community for years to come, and $40M to invest in much-needed repairs at neighborhood branches across the borough,” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.

“NYCEDC is honored to be serving as an advisor to the Brooklyn Public Library as they seek creative ways to remain a modern library system, with modern facilities, while also securing their future in the face of large current and future capital needs,” said Kyle Kimball, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “The use of public assets to create more affordable housing and update public library facilities, while also infusing cash to the other library facilities throughout Brooklyn, is an important step in the de Blasio administration’s efforts to fight inequality and lift up all New Yorkers.”

The project will replace the aging building on Cadman Plaza West, which requires more than $9 million in repairs, with a brand new facility. The building that will house the library, designed by Marvel Architects, will be 319 feet tall and include 350,000 square feet of mixed-use space. Features of the project include:

  • A New Brooklyn Heights Library: The new, 21,000 square foot library will be one of the largest in the BPL system. The branch will be a destination library for northwest Brooklyn, offering new collections, technology, and extensive programs. The design will incorporate feedback from the community, and planned features include expanded youth program areas, quiet space for independent study, and a large community program room.
  • Uninterrupted Library Service for the Brooklyn Heights Community: An 8,000 square foot interim library space will be provided by Hudson Companies, at Our Lady of Lebanon Church (113 Remsen Street), five blocks from the existing branch.
  • Affordable Housing: 114 units of offsite affordable housing built within the community (CB2). The units will come online concurrent with the opening of 280 Cadman Plaza West.

In a long-planned move, the Business and Career Library, currently housed in the Brooklyn Heights branch, will move to the Central Library, a more central location where job seekers and entrepreneurs from across the borough will enjoy the expanded hours, interdisciplinary resources, and modern work and study spaces that the Central Library provides. Of the 28,000 square feet in the current branch that are accesible to the public, approximately 13,000 are devoted to the B&C Library and 15,000 to the branch library.

During the RFP process, BPL convened a Community Advisory Committee, which met to advise the Library on priorities regarding redevelopment of the site. The Committee’s feedback directly impacted the parameters of the project detailed in the RFP, increasing the size of the proposed library, dictating key design elements and prioritizing interim space to ensure uninterrupted library service.

BPL will lead a community-driven design process for the new Brooklyn Heights branch, and the next Community Advisory Committee meeting will be held on October 7. The land-use review process (ULURP) is expected to begin later this year, and will give the public an opportunity for further input. Construction is expected to begin in 2016.

For more information on the project, including initial renderings of the new facility visit http://www.bklynlibrary.org/brooklyn-heights-project.


About Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website: www.bklynlibrary.org.