Council approves Sunset Park library redevelopment

Community Board 7 backs Sunset Park library redevelopment
Magnusson Architecture and Planning

It’s on the books!

The controversial Sunset Park library redevelopment won unanimous approval from the Council on March 16. The vote caps a year-long approval process for the city to sell the aging Fourth Avenue book-lender to the Fifth Avenue Committee, a developer, which will replace the building with an eight-story, apartment building aimed at low-income tenants, and lease the ground-floor back to the library system.

Some criticized the plan for selling public land, but the city maintains that a new library and 49 below-market-rate apartments is a win-win, said the commissioner of the Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development.

“By combining affordable housing with improvements to public resources, like the Sunset Park Library, we are serving local residents and the community for generations to come,” said Maria Torres-Springer. “Yesterday’s vote is an important milestone in making way for 49 new affordable apartments and a much-enhanced and expanded space for the library so it can continue to serve as a vital hub for the neighborhood.”

The Fifth Avenue Committee will buy the library at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 51st Street from the city, raze the 43-year-old structure, construct an eight-story apartment building, and sell the upgraded ground-floor atheneum back to the library system for just $1.

A city-run affordable-housing lottery will dole out the apartments to people with annual incomes up to $22,500 for a single person and $86,967 for a family of four. Half of the units will go to residents of Community Board 7, with nine going to local domestic violence victims who currently live in shelters, plans show. In addition, eight units will accept Section 8 vouchers and eight will be handicapped-accessible.

Rents in 39 units will range along a sliding scale, depending on income. The lowest-priced studio is set at $532 per month with the most expensive three-bedroom capping at $1,272 a month. The remaining 10 units are intended for higher-earning but still technically low-income tenants, so the digs will be below market rate, according to records from the Fifth Avenue Committee.

Now that the city has given the project the rubber stamp, the Brooklyn Public Library will work to open an interim bibliotheque in the same building as Community Board 7’s office.

The developer has vowed not to break ground on the project until the temporary library opens this summer — but Sunset Parkers will be book-lenderless for a few weeks as the system relocates the books — said the housing director for the Fifth Avenue Committee.

“We committed to the community that we would not start demolition until the temporary library site is available in the summer,” said Jay Marcus. “But everything is moving along. We’re very happy with the vote and glad that we can move forward.”

The developer will topple the building this September, construction will begin in October, and the library will reopen by 2020, according to Marcus.

The mayor has five days to veto the project.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspiv[email protected]nglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.