Brooklyn Public Library plans to seize McKinley Park building from BMO Harris Bank through eminent domain

Brooklyn Public Library wants to seize Dyker branch building

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Public Library wants to close the book on its $20,000-a-month lease on its McKinley Park branch — by having the city seize the building through eminent domain.

“It’s costing us almost $250,000 a year. That’s not chump change,” said the library’s executive vice president David Woloch, noting that amount could pay the salaries of three additional librarians.

The city will hold hearings next month on taking the building away from the Arizona-based bank that owns it, claiming that having to lease the branch at the corner of 68th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway puts an unfair burden on the library and is preventing necessary repairs on the facility.

Woloch said that almost all of the library’s 60 branches are in buildings owned by the city, which pays for utilities and lets the library use tem rent-free. But seven — including McKinley — are rented from private landlords who require the library to pay for utilities, as well as all maintenance and repairs.

The library has been putting off more than $5 million in needed plumbing work, roof repairs, window replacement and other basic repairs at McKinley for years to avoid investing scarce resources in a facility it does not own.

With the lease at the Dyker Heights branch expiring this summer, the library would rather have the city seize the building from the owner, a branch of BMO Harris Bank in Scottsdale, Ariz., than sign another long-term rental commitment.

The library first offered to buy the building for $2.4 million, but the bank turned it down and made no counter offer, so the library began the eminent domain process, which allows the city to take over private property to use for the public good.

“At this point the landlord has indicated an unwillingness to sell, and it serves the public interest for the library to own the building,” Woloch said.

McKinley would be the first building the library has had seized through eminent domain, according to Woloch, but it began the process to take over the Ulmer Park branch building in Bath Beach last year, at which point the owner agreed to sell.

Woloch said the library is not worried that fear of losing their property would cause the owners of the other six leased branches would try to push them out, or would make landlords reluctant to rent to it in the future.

“I don’t think it changes the playing field for us to our disadvantage at all,” said Woloch, adding that the library would likely seek to acquire all of the rental spaces. “I would not be surprised if we pursued a similar path down the road for some of the others.”

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn Heights says:
Thirty years hence are they going to let the branch fall apart and then sell it to a private developer
like they are trying to do on cadman plaza
March 10, 2014, 5:16 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Marshe might be right, but leasing the building from Arizona makes no sense. Was the price offered in keeping with what the building is worth?
I don't think that leasing scenario that requires the library to pay for repairs to a building it doesn't own makes any sense at all.
March 10, 2014, 6:54 am
Danny from Bk says:
This is a great example of what Eminent Domain is best used for.
March 10, 2014, 9 am
WTFan from Windsor Terrace says:
why? because you don't like the owner, and you like libraries? If the owner doesn't want to sell, buy a different building. Also, are we sure this will save money? what will the debt payments be vs. the rent payments already being paid?
March 10, 2014, 9:23 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
please expand this library by also buying the property behind it... then add a basement and 2 floors to really serve the community.
March 10, 2014, 9:37 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn Heights says:
Be careful of the library and their Real Estate moves.
They have people with developer connections on their board.. I could care less about Arizona.. but calling properties in for public uses and then discarding them sounds like crony politics to me
March 10, 2014, 11:19 am
What's Going On from Here? says:
Hold when the Brooklyn Library said they were planning on selling 2 branches last year (Brooklyn Heights and the Pacific Street branches) they were actually talking about selling CITY buildings? Or CITY land?

The BPL is supposed to be a private not-for-profit that operates the library system. How could they possibly be able to sell city property? Sounds like the whole "sale" thing was a complete hoax from Bloomberg trying to give away properties to developers!
March 10, 2014, 12:05 pm
TOM from Brooklyn says:
'Not-For-Profit' only means those who control the revenues will make sure that after they pay themselves no profit is possible.
Be mindful the City has looked at libraries such as these underdeveloped one-floor sites for potential greater-density residential opportunities.
I would be interested in learning how this public-private partnership was originated. It should make for a good crime caper, I suspect. Where's Jake Geddes when you need him.
March 10, 2014, 12:27 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
Turn Barclays into a giant library. Keep the foodie options though.
March 10, 2014, 10:30 pm
Ruth Cavanaugh from Staten Island says:
This particular branch of the BPL has the highest circulation after the Central and Kings Highway libraries. It is a very important branch of the system. Perhaps that is why it is so important to the BPL to acquire the location. And, yes the city owns the land that many branches are located on as that was what Andrew Carnegie required when he donated the buildings to the Library system of Brooklyn. (My family, husband, daughter, brother & sister-in-law all worked for the BPL at one time or another.) It seems appropriate to use eminent domain to acquire the ownership of this property, since it needs repairs and the owner won't pay for it.
March 11, 2014, 10:26 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn Heights says:
But what will happen in the future if the city and the library decide to sell out to developers
March 11, 2014, 2:52 pm
Savonarola from Fahrenheit 451 says:
All your books are belong to us.
March 11, 2014, 9:12 pm
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
the community should have a fund raising and raise the money to buy the building and expand the library with a community center purpose.
March 12, 2014, 4:48 pm
Jane from Gravesend says:
Want to have extra money to spend on branches merge the three library systems. All New Yorkers can use all three systems, but there are three set of management teams full of mid six figure political cronies. As for the selling and redeveloping of the two brooklyn branches. Good move where city can get needed tax dollars and also get new branches
March 12, 2014, 8:01 pm
Vinny from 18th Ave says:
Get Arty Aidala to chip in
March 16, 2014, 9:12 pm
Ben Franklin from Bensonhurst says:
How much does Dave Woloch get paid is a better question? Dave, you're a cretin presiding over the destruction of a once great institution your nearly 100% ignorant of-- but I shouldn't even tell you the glories you overlook lest you discard them also. Jerkoff.
Oct. 30, 2016, 12:45 am

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