Critics: Heights library housing plan separates rich and poor

A tale of two apartment buildings: The below-market-rate apartment building a developer plans to erect at 911 Atlantic Ave., and the market-rate tower it wants to raise on the site of the Brooklyn Heights library.
The Brooklyn Paper
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It is off by a mile.

A developer’s plan to build luxury apartments on top of the Brooklyn Heights library but construct the development’s below-market-rate housing on a separate site in Clinton Hill will unfairly segregate the rich from the poor, say local residents.

“The proposal calls for building apartments for the poor in a poor neighborhood a mile away from Brooklyn Heights,” said Cobble Hill resident Donald Fleck, one of several residents who spoke against the divided housing during a public hearing on the plans for the library development at Borough Hall on Tuesday. “This proposal perpetuates the two-cities model by keeping the poor with the poor and the affluent with the affluent.”

Developer Hudson Companies is seeking the city’s okay to buy the book repository on Cadman Plaza West at Tillary Street for $52 million and build a 36-story residential skyscraper on top, with a new library at the bottom.

The company is promising to include below-market-rate housing as part of its pitch, but the city doesn’t require developers to actually build so-called affordable housing in the same property as its market-rate units — just the same community board — so Hudson is instead proposing to construct the cheaper units across two new nine-story buildings at 1041 Fulton St. and 911 Atlantic Ave. in Clinton Hill.

The developer says it is not trying to keep lower-income residents out of its tony Heights tower — but it claims it can offer more below-market apartments if it puts them on a separate site than it could by building them in the library high-rise.

If it kept them in one spot, the less-expensive pads would compete with the market-rate ones for space in the tower, and the project would not be financially feasible, said David Kramer, principal at developer Hudson Companies.

Kramer says the company chose sites in less-affluent Clinton Hill for the below-market buildings because they were the right price at the right time.

“We found two sites, and it was very hard to find any sites, because it’s a difficult market out there,” he said.

But one detractor claimed Hudson could still turn a profit with below-market-rate housing on-site, pointing to Manhattan’s Donnell Library, which another developer bought for $59 million in 2007 and is now asking $60 million for the top two floors alone.

“They’re selling the penthouse for more than they paid for the site,” Paula Glatzer said of the Manhattan development.

Hudson plans to build 139 units of housing on the library site and says it will build another 114 units in the Clinton Hill buildings — three-quarters of which will go to people earning at or below the city’s median income — which the state says is $60,000 for a single person to $86,000 for a family of four. The remainder of the apartments will be designated for people making more than the median, plans show.

The below-market-rate rents will range from $850 to $3,623 per month, depending on apartment size and the number of residents, according to the developer.

Tuesday’s meeting was part a public review process the city and developer must go through to sanction the property’s sale, build a new library, and modify existing zoning permits on the site.

Community Board 2 already okayed the plan in July. Now it is on Borough President Adams’s desk, before it heads to the City Planning Commission and then City Council — which ultimately get to say yea or nay regardless of what the community board or Beep decides.

Adams said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll support the plan, but generally, he believes the more below-market-rate housing the better.

“I lean toward getting the highest volume of affordable units as possible,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Newkirk Plaza says:
Clinton Hill ain't exactly a shabby neighborhood and may be more fitting for those of "modest" incomes.
I hope Adams approves the plan.
Aug. 20, 2015, 1:45 am
Poor Person says:
Gimme gimme gimme!

Just give me things!
Aug. 20, 2015, 3:14 am
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
$3,623 per month? That's a mortgage not rent! By the way do yo know what happens to these "market rate" units that don't get rented? The developer comes to the government with it's hands out AGAIN and gets subsidies, rents them out and we pay the difference. Just like the luxury apartments in Chelsea that "artists" are paying less than $500 a month for a 2 bedroom.
Aug. 20, 2015, 7:43 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Public assets -> (given for cheap) private developer -> bad outcome for 99% -> great outcome for 1%

Wake up middle class!!!! Someone just stole the house you built.
Aug. 20, 2015, 8:28 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I like when "critics" make foolish claims like this because it makes it safer to ignore them next time around.
Aug. 20, 2015, 9:31 am
Punch out from Williamsburg says:
Hey Mike I thought someone knocked you out in front of a bar?
Aug. 20, 2015, 11:22 am
Jim from Brooklyn says:
And if they had put the market rate units in Clinton Hill the developer would have been accused of gentrification.

Some people just want this city to go to hell.
Aug. 20, 2015, 1:03 pm
Brad from Brooklyn says:
No, Jim, we just want YOU to go to hell, you worthless subhuman piece of excrement.
Aug. 20, 2015, 3:34 pm
giraffe, polar bear, snoopy from crazytown says:
too many people
Aug. 20, 2015, 3:36 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
They are squeezing a lot of people into a little space with no amenities. Schools, hospitals, parks, playgrounds, pools, green space and libraries sorely needed to serve us poor people.
Aug. 20, 2015, 7:48 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
All i know is when those future market-rate residents get tired of getting beaten & robbed by locals like the fools in w'burg then it'll eventually turn into below-market housing.
Aug. 20, 2015, 9:15 pm
wombat from zoo says:
That's right cuz palace fried rémy teenage grandma crackerjack loves big jail. Not sure how to get rid of the baseball hats, am pretty sure that's not it jayjayem.
Aug. 21, 2015, 9:56 am
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
About half of these so-called “affordable” housing units are really more like market rate units. Of the lower income units (not all that low) only a few are big enough for families.

In truth, these so-called “affordable” housing units. pathetically located so far away, are just window dressing for a boondoggle hand off of a very valuable public asset, a sturdy, central destination library that we just recently expanded and fully upgraded to make it state-of-the-art for the computer age. That expansion was at considerable public expense and sacrifice. (Essentially, that complete upgrade makes the building is five years newer than the adjacent Ratner building where Hillary located her national campaign headquarters.) Now we want to shrink the library to just one-third size, making it considerably smaller than it was in the first place?

Meanwhile, any possible benefit of this window dressing is wiped up by our elimination of 14,000 truly low-income NYCHA public housing, with NYCHA being attacked much the way libraries are, with targeted underfunding as an excuse for sell-offs to the private sector. Does this, or does this not, sound like a shell game?
Aug. 21, 2015, 11:54 am
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
We should applaud state assemblywoman JoAnne Simon for being there throughout the evening and listening all the way through attentively. It's what she should have done (because what is more important than selling off a $120 million asset like this central destination library), but she wasn't required to.
Aug. 21, 2015, 11:58 am
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
Watch our spectacular new 3 minute 50 second Citizens Defending Libraries video about the library sale

(best to watch on you computer or tablet, there is little sound file glitch if you happen to listen on an iPhone- we are working to fix that)

Selling Our Libraries!
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:02 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
That CB2 vote? The CB2 vote was pretty blind. If you have any doubt about that watch this:

VIDEO: CB2 Denied Crucial Facts Before Approving Library Sale . . . . . (click through to YouTube fo best viewing)
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:05 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
Borough President Adams is still taking testimony. Here is information about submitting testimony and a form (or text you can adapt) to do so.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Still Taking Testimony On Whether Brooklyn Heights
Library, Brooklyn’s Central Destination Library In Downtown Brooklyn
Should Be Sold And Shrunk
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:07 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
When Citizens Defending Libraries checked in advance we were told any initial presentations by the BPL and developer would be more restricted, not the 30 to 40 minutes that they got to "sales pitch" the project at the beginning of the evening before the rest of us started to get our chance to speak. I also asked about our ability to use PowerPoint or video aids (we were prepared), and I was told we couldn't, we'd just be able to use placards with pictures to make our points, but that the pro-project side also wouldn't get to do a PowerPoint Computer slide style presentation like they eventually did.

I think the remarkable thing is that virtually all of those who testified in favor of selling and shrinking the library were in one way or another salaried by the real estate industry, many having an actual interest in the transaction. I am not sure I could detect a single legitimate resident of the community who testified in favor of the project. Although the BPL tried bringing some duped people from Sunset Park to say their library would move to the head of the list for city funding if this central downtown library is sold, we had more residents from Sunset Park who spoke against this form of so-called "charity" buy-off.

And in the end, even with all those salaried individuals testifying (BPL trustee Hank Gutman works for the law firm representing Blackstone, the world's largest real estate investment firm , headed by Stephen Schwarzman who at the NYPL is pushing library sales like and including Donnell), we still had them soundly outnumbered because in the end there was no alternating testimony anymore because there were only more and more of us speaking against the transaction. And that's with some of our people who had to wait longer and unable to stay till 10:40 PM leaving without being ever able to testify.
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:09 pm
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
A poverty measure that is widely accepted is the % of students that qualify for free lunch. At the zoned school for the affordable appts it is 83% at the zoned school for the millionaire condos it is less than 10%. You tell me if this Johnson/Hudson plan does anything to promote integration or segregation.
The answer is clearly segregation by economic class
Why is DeBlasio supporting this tale of two cities??
It must be because of his rich developer friends
Stop it now.. before it continues. We need one integrated city
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:25 pm
Steve from Ft. Greene says:
Gosh, it sure feels great to be lectured by Professor Michael D.D. White!

(And what's with the initials???)
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:37 pm
JUSTINE SWARTZ from Brooklyn Heights says:
The new condominium at 280 Cadman Plaza Westwill be a racially, segregated divided building. Although the Real Estate Developers Hudson Companies managed to place the affordable housing component miles away they still had the issue of A Library with more than 90 per cent of whose patrons are African American. Problem solved. All the extremely wealthy Non-Black condominium owners would use the entrance on Clinton Street. The African American students would use The Poor Door, along with the homeless, the immigrants, and the Seniors: The Library Door will be a completely separated entranceway on Cadman Plaza Park West, way over on the other side of the block. The adjacent door to the Poor Door, the Library door, will be the Garbage/Trash door also located on Cadman Plaza West. The upper crust wealthy will be located at #1 Clinton Street while the Library patronized and loved by ,Blacks and economically challenged people will be found at a/k/a 280 Cadman Plaza West.
I found it ironic for the AfricanAmerican's and my hangout to be labeled a/k/a.
Aug. 21, 2015, 12:54 pm
JUSTINE SWARTZ from Brooklyn Heights says:

"pursuant to Section 197-c of New York City Charter, for the disposition of one city-owned property located at 1 Clinton Street, (aka 280 Cadman Plaza West); Block 239, Lot 16, pursuant to zoning;"
Aug. 21, 2015, 1:04 pm
Self Seeking Politicians from Crown Heights says:
You just know Eric Adams is going to approve this. An entire slate of NYC politicians are totally in the pocket of the 0.0001 %. It is a foregone conclusion that the project is going to be approved (albeit with any of a whole host of engineered excuse that serves to give them cover eg. "affordable" housing, or fiddling around the edges. But what this is really all about is obvious, Eric Adams--this is a land grab of public assets, shame on you). This is all for show, but at least we are given a hearing--but that is only because it is required by law. Don't count on Eric Adams to hold any hearings or do anything genuine if this hearing were not required by law. Sell-out self-seeking career politicans are controlled by the .0001% to take action--and to take no action--on a whole host of issues at the local, state and federal levels in accordance with the dictates of the 0.0001% because they want to better themselves. 0.0001% owns the politicians, the media, etc. as this issue shows so well.
Aug. 21, 2015, 1:13 pm
blackbird from city park says:
The poor door is not an argument, unless if you believe in mush. Instead ask what is the reason for these polarized economies, particularly with regard to the greedy as f construction industry.
Aug. 21, 2015, 1:41 pm
Mary P. Buchwald from Park Slope says:
Seen through the lens of housing, Borough President Adams supports this divided housing plan, that is, the tale of two cities. The developer says there will be both more market rate and affordable housing built this way. This is an example of ends (larger number) justifies the means (structural segregation which could be racial and/or economic).
Who is keeping track of the official number of low-income housing being lost to development throughout Brooklyn?

Let's not forget, Brooklyn Heights Library is an attractive, viable, popular library with patrons from throughout the city. The terms 'book repository' and 'library high rise' are not accurate terms to describe what is happening. Have you visited the branch?
The children's room on the second floor of Brooklyn Heights Library, surrounded with windows, sunlight to greet kids and great views, is a room to be envied for any library. If sold, the children's room will be relegated to the basement, at the base of an oversized obscene condo structure.
Aug. 21, 2015, 3:04 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Is there any change you guys can regroup, have a little chat, and then re-present your thoughts without the tone of tin foil hat wearing loons?

If this really is a horrific as you seem to think, it's worth saying it in a way others can hear.
Aug. 21, 2015, 4:04 pm
squirrel from tree branch says:
The 'poor door' argument is nonsense. 10$ is not the same as 100$, nor should it be treated as such. Tale of two cities would involve zero affordable. Believe you me, I fully recognize the need for non bubble bursting construction and have spoken up against the 421a at public hearings as the stimulus is unnecessary in today's real estate market (stockmrktcrashaside). The poor door argument is just an agitator argument and has no real basis in necessity, unless if we are talking more like 20$ and 60$ in which case the polarity is a non issue and cohabitation is sensible. Trouble is contractors and developers say they need the 100$ to make quality happen, which is not the case. Or even more absurdly the 60$ peeps want to believe they're 100$ peeps and so marketing becomes a determinant.

The amenities are plugged into the code now in exchange for perks, as they are regarded as quality of life improvements.

Is this stuff even being bid upon competitively?

The children's reading room is great. Had no idea about the basement suggestion, awful. I do miss the Donnell, though think its important to identify each situation independently of the other, regardless of patterns.

For realz tho, they're building irresponsibly in floodplains, when will the crowding subside and infrastructure catch up?
Aug. 21, 2015, 5:55 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Of course the library and the apartments would have different doors. One is residential, the other is akin to a business, with open and closed times.
Aug. 21, 2015, 6:48 pm
JUSTINE SWARTZ from Brooklyn Heights says:
Two upperclass restaurants will be located at
#1 Clinton St. in the condominium. The anonymous person from Bay Ridge wrongly believes eateries are not businesses with open and close times. (By this person's 'logic' the restaurants should share the same entranceway as the library. ) Because of Economic Segregation: Wealthy Door vs. Poor Door
this will never happen. The 1 Percenters would never share restaurant space with the clients of the library. The restaurants would lose their targeted clientele.
Aug. 22, 2015, 10:28 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
I would like an affordable apartment on Park Avenue. I will be happy to enter by the back door or the cellar door or the coal chute.
Aug. 22, 2015, 11:46 am
snail from pebble beach says:
@ me from Bay Ridge, all you have to do is become the building's super, unspoken perks include under the table bribes for allowing contractors to do work.
Aug. 22, 2015, 1:12 pm
snail from pebble beach says:
... free parking out front for your ginourmous SUV monster truck, good school district for you many spawn
Aug. 22, 2015, 1:20 pm
snail from underwater says:
And supers enter via the front door, contrary to ridiculous hearsay.
Aug. 22, 2015, 1:29 pm
Shamdonkwa Jones from Brownsville says:
JUSTINE SWARTZ - you racist!
So only black people use the liabrary? And we're supposed to be just like white people?
Your self-righteous attitude is distasteful, and whatever you may want to think, you're a racially obsessed repeater Of other people's ideas. I'm sure you and your white buddies feel like awesome college students when you get oddly angry on behalf Of black people. However, there are rich black people who don't need a government created apartment! There are income restricted people who are white. Black people are not inferior, and In need of your angry ranting that we need special treatment. Nor do many of us want to live in majority white neighborhoods.
Aug. 23, 2015, 3:34 am
fly from wall says:
$60 mil. Who's moving into the dark crystal? Taylor Swift?

Mirrored thought of the day. The reason the City is letting the subways go to sh*t (digital wayfinder gimmicks being the exception) is because it will become our storm water management system we do not have. Our Chicago TARP. Our Saitama caverns. This still doesn't address the rising water levels.
Aug. 23, 2015, 12:41 pm
Jessica from Bensonhurst says:
Racist, wealthy, angry Justine believes only black people use the library. She's also hatefull to people from South Brooklyn. Rude racist who lives in her isolated rich world. You're a divider, your nasty, and you're the epitome of a Self-defined "elite" (though it's not to imply intelectualism, just money and popular opinion).
Aug. 23, 2015, 1:44 pm
swatted fly from floor says:
The restaurant could share a lobby with the library. A similar case might be the Campbell Apts in Grand Central. Trouble is noise and dining aromas wafting into the library. As for the service door (trash, construction equipment), I don't believe they're proposing to combine that with anything other than a means of fire egress.

The Clinton Hill project's design should improve, eh em. And shout out to the developers, stop making the street levels of your buildings so crappy. Spare a few square feet for urban graciousness. Manhattan House, Seagram's. And don't think we don't see you squeezing that hvac through the roof thoughtlessly, to make an extra buck. And get the kids out of the windowless basement you schmoes.
Aug. 23, 2015, 3:18 pm
JUSTINE SWARTZ from Brooklyn Heights says:
Visit Cadman Plaza Library. Do a census. It is what it is. African school children from the nearby projects find a safe haven after school hours, and sometimes during school hours, in the Brooklyn Heights Library. The halls are packed with students trying to better themselves, taking additional classes, lectures, socializing and having fun.
I don't care where anybody lives. Except our library should not be destroyed in order to make living quarters for wealthy- whatever race they are.
Aug. 23, 2015, 10:13 pm
clm from bklyn heights says:
Putting the housing in Clinton Hill, two miles from the wealthy sanctuary of Bklyn Hts sounds better than it is: one building will be on Atlantic Avenue (a truck route) and another on Fulton Street (commercial) Google these addresses--1041-47 Fulton Street and 911-917 Atlantic Avenue ...Not the leafy brownstone lined streets conjured by the words "Clinton Hill..." Many (most?) of the subsidized apartments will be studios...But de Blasio is a big fan of this arrangement rather than building an 80/20 because more units of affordable housing will be created--sadly they will be mostly small without amenities in a really bad school district but the Mayor will be able to boast of larger numbers of units created by his administration...I too would rather have my kids walk through the poor door in a good school district than the front door in a failing district along an asthma inducing truck route...
Aug. 25, 2015, 9:36 am
JUSTINE SWARTZ from Brooklyn Heights says:
Brooklyn Heights desperately needs Public Schools. Remake, repurpose the unused spaces in Cadman Plaza Library into school rooms. Don't sell off our Public library. There is no need for another high rise condominium in our neighborhood.
Aug. 25, 2015, 5:29 pm

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