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.