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Beep demands bigger library, below-market housing for Heights branch high-rise

Library stacks: Renderings of the proposed 36-story tower a developer wants to build on the Brooklyn Heights library.
The Brooklyn Paper
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The city must shelve a developer’s plan to build a luxury high-rise on the site of the Brooklyn Heights library unless it agrees to add below-market-rate units, school classrooms, and a larger library branch to the complex, says Borough President Adams.

The Beep on Tuesday gave his thumbs down to the city’s proposal to sell the Cadman Plaza West site to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million and allow it to build a 36-story residential skyscraper there — and also offered a laundry list of prescriptions to improve the scheme.

The developer aims to create 139 market-rate units in the new wedge-shaped tower in Brooklyn Heights, and build an additional 114 below-market-rate units off-site across two buildings in Clinton Hill — a plan many locals slammed as a segregation of the rich from the poor during a public hearing Adams held on the project last month.

But the Beep wants to have it both ways — he said the company should build 20 below-market-rate units in the Brooklyn Heights tower in addition to the Clinton Hill properties.

And he wants the developer to go back to the drafting board on the so-called affordable units — it currently plans to make 87 of the 114 units either studio or one-bedroom apartments, which he says won’t be of much use to the families who are being priced out of the area. It would be preferable to have a smaller number of family-sized units than a greater number of apartments that can only house singles, he said.

Adams also called on the developer to redesign the library itself. Hudson plans to demolish the current 60,000-square-foot library — about 32,000 square feet of which Adams says is actually used — and replace it with a 21,500-square-foot facility.

But the Beep wants a 30,000-square-foot new library, and said the developer should use the extra 8,500 square feet for the Heights library’s business and career collection, which the library system plans to relocate to its central branch in Prospect Heights. He claims that location is less convenient for public transit, and the subway stations that are nearby aren’t accessible for people with disabilities.

Adams also demanded the project to do more to alleviate overcrowding in the area’s school district — especially nearby PS 8, which is significantly over capacity — and that the city provide the cash to make it happen.

He says the proposed tower has the space for around 10 to 12 classrooms and a gymnasium, but the developer must guarantee that they will be built and the Department of Education and School Construction Authority must set aside to money to fund them before the city sells the land.

Other recommendations in the borough president’s 20-page letter included:

• That the city consider using some of the profits from the sale to help fund local schools and to construct more below-market-rate housing, instead of just giving it all to the Brooklyn Public Library.

• That the developer provide a written guarantee that all designated below-market-rate units will remain so permanently.

• That the developer find a better place to house an interim library during construction than the 8,000-square-foot space it plans on co-opting from a nearby church. The makeshift library should be no less than 20,000 square feet, he said.

• That the developer give the Brooklyn Public Library a cut of its profits — including extra cash if the value of the apartments goes up in the time between the two parties signing on the dotted line and the end of construction, and a 25-percent cut of the sale of any space on the top two floors of the tower if the city rezones the land to allow for a taller building.

• That the developer hire Brooklyn contractors and subcontractors to build the new structure.

• That the developer include retail stores on the ground floor of one of the two below-market-rate buildings in Clinton Hill, which is slated for Fulton Street. The Beep says the local shopping district needs a shot in the arm, and the stores’ lights would make the area brighter at night.

• Adams also used the letter to re-iterate his plea for Mayor DeBlasio to unify the city’s disparate library systems into a single city-run and -funded body, so the Brooklyn Public Library doesn’t have to sell more of its buildings to stay afloat.

Community Board 2, which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, okayed the sale and development plan in July, on the condition that the developer expand the replacement library and set aside a $2-million kitty for future repairs to the branch.

The city is required to afford the board and borough president their two cents on the project as part of a public review process it must go through to sanction the property’s sale, build a new library, and modify a special zoning permit on the site — but their roles are largely advisory.

The City Planning Commission will be the next to review the scheme — it will give its yea or nay on Oct. 21, according to the library.

Reach reporter Harry MacCormack at hmaccormack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @HMacBKPaper.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Hootie McBuhtt from Queens says:
Only below market rents? Why not give it to them for free? Many Of these low income people rely on their wages to buy top-of-the-line sneakers. This solution hardly helps them do that.
Sept. 11, 2015, 5:31 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
better transportation options to outer-boroughs also helps affordability if time is money
Sept. 11, 2015, 8:27 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
So the one official with no real power is the one trying to make this public land transfer scheme to private developers at least a fair deal. Pathetic. Pathetic people. And where is the mayor? A Progressive liberal pro developer. This makes no sense. Stop this transfer!
Sept. 11, 2015, 9:50 am
TOM MURPHY from Sunset Park says:
Thank you, President Adams, for addressing what's important and lasting to the people of Brooklyn.
Sept. 11, 2015, 10:36 am
a from b says:
Although Hootie is clearly a terrible human being, threats of violence are not the way to deter racism. Using Report Abuse to eliminate the post then recognizing that although terrible humans like Hootie do exist, most people's intentions are positive.
Sept. 11, 2015, 2:15 pm
Marsha Rimler from Heights says:
Thank you Borough President Adams for listening to the citizenry and for your very well thought out statement
Sept. 11, 2015, 2:49 pm
Mamma from Horny says:
Marsha Rimler = Adams posting under a fake name

Pathetic! Adams has sunk to a new low!
Sept. 11, 2015, 3:49 pm
I ain't one to gossip so you ain't heard from Me says:
Unifying the systems was something Bloomberg started. He replaced board members and directors with his cronies to help push it along. The last hold out was in Queens but that got taken care of recently. Now although the systems get a majority of their funding from the city, I hope the BP in all his grand standing as he butters the people up for his mayoral run realizes that they are not city agencies, they are non profit organizations.
Sept. 11, 2015, 10:41 pm
Dan from Boerum Hill says:
One thing I've learned is that New Yorkers love to complain for the sake of complaining, even if they've got a good deal. Despite this trait, New York is a great city and more people want to live there than the current housing stock permits. We can build a Trump style wall to prevent newcombers from entering or we can build high enough so that demand doesn't outstrip supply and rents go even higher. I walk pass this library regularly. Situated along Cadman Plaza, the area has a low density feel and underutilized parks. Additional residents won't be felt in the majority of Brooklyn Heights. In addition, we get a renovated library that keeps pace with the needs of the 21st Century and housing for low income residents. The classic win-win-win. And thus the ignorant NIMBY's will complain.
Sept. 12, 2015, 6:07 am
Harriet from Brooklyn says:
Dan - how about people who can't afford the rent where they want to live just move to other neighborhoods? The population of Brooklyn today is still lower than In the 60's. There's no need for more buildings, or special rent breaks. There's housing all over at all prices. If you don't look at only hip or glamorous parts of New York, there are plenty of cheap apartments. They just require longer subway rides to get home. Plenty of people already commute like that, and others could too. It might even make those neighborhoods nicer.
Sept. 12, 2015, 6:23 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Harriet is correct -- and the low density feel around that library is nice.
Sept. 12, 2015, 6:37 am
Marsha Rimler from Heights says:
The BPL is a non-profit which gets over 80% of its funds from the city. THAT MEANS THE TAXPAYERS. Linda Johnson a Bloomberg pick makes over 300.000. Should not these city funded non-profits be merged to save duplicate salaries. ?We
need a new board and exec here in Brooklyn. the current players are really real estate agents and care very little for our system
Sept. 12, 2015, 9:34 am
Dan from Bh says:
Harriet, although I understand that subsidized housing costs the rest of us more money and that it's nobody's right to live in a posh neighborhood if they can't afford it, I don't nyc will continue to attract the best teachers, actors, artists, innovators, Etc if they have to live in Canarsie. Besides, if we don't build enough supply of housing, rent will go up for everyone. Building code has changed since the 60's, you can't put multiple families in one apartment, you need to build higher.
Sept. 12, 2015, 8:58 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Let's fill in the East River and cover it with apartment buildings. What do we need it for?
Sept. 12, 2015, 10:06 pm
Samantha from Brooklyn says:
Dan - there is no difficulty attracting people to NYC. More are coming than ever before, despite housing being more expensive than ever before.
Canarsie is just one neighborhood. There's tons in other boroughs as well (the whole of the Bronx?!).
Building is fine, but it doesn't require special rent breaks for people with connections or who know how to play the system's games. Also, many of the teachers will work in neighborhoods besides Brooklyn Heights. These apartments can be closer to their schools. More offices can open in other parts of Brooklyn if the people who work in them live in other neighborhoods.
Building is ok, but not needed. We could just reintroduce rent control on apartments, to give renters security in old age.
Sept. 13, 2015, 2:41 am
Hoolio Gonezalez from Mexico says:
Free homes for Mexicans???
Sept. 13, 2015, 8:06 am
b from gp says:
NIMBYs are like our central nervous system. They help to pinpoint the pain. I for example have experienced the bricking over of my sky twice already. Soon I will be buried alive for a third freaking time and to me now this is like an all out planetary alarm. I recognize the library's location is somewhat sensible for higher density and yet my intuition has been altered such that growth is no longer responsible.
Sept. 13, 2015, 2:51 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
What the city needs is more senior citizen housing to free up existing apartments for younger folk. How many seniors are clinging to their too-big, often walk-up apartments because they are rent controlled?
Sept. 14, 2015, 8:20 am
Norman from Park Slope says:
Three cheers!!! for Borough President's wise and thoughtful analysis. NOT a simple case of "NIMBY" at all. Anyone who says so doesn't know the needs of the community. Must be a shill!
Sept. 14, 2015, 10:06 am
bklyn born from bklyn heights says:
I beleive that Brooklyn heights and park slope need more people of color ,I beleive that parts of prospect park should be made in affordable housing , there is so much unused space . Lets build and build big come on ,you all know thats whats needed in Brooklyn ..............
Sept. 15, 2015, 9:32 pm

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