The Brooklyn Public Library’s ambitious plan to build an iconic, Enrique Norten-designed performing arts branch near the Brooklyn Academy of Music has been abandoned, but rising in its place will be another Norten creation, this one a luxury residential, cultural and office edifice.
Two Trees Management, the developer that single-handedly transformed DUMBO into first an artistic center and, more recently, a luxury residential neighborhood, has been called in by the city now that the Brooklyn Public Library has finally given up on its $135-million performing and visual arts library.
“We weren’t in position to fully fund it,” said Jason Carey, a library spokesman.
Even though the library ditched its fancy digs, the city and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership still wanted the allure of a breathtaking building and public plaza on the triangle bounded by Flatbush Avenue Extension, Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place — the gateway to the BAM Cultural District.
That district is already home to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Mark Morris Dance Center, the BAM Harvey Theater and the Brooklyn Music School. Soon, the Frank Gehry-designed Theater for a New Audience, a new home for the Manhattan-based Danspace, a renovated Strand Theater and two new public spaces will join the district.
The city and Two Trees are on the verge of a final agreement in which principals David and Jed Walentas would pay $20 million for the triangular property and turn over a Walentas-owned site on Ashland Place to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which plans to build back offices and a 263-seat community theater.
The consolation prize for the Brooklyn Public Library is the chance to open a local branch inside the new Walentas building, which will have 180 apartments, commercial space for arts organizations and a 450-car, underground parking garage.
“We’ve expressed interest in us being part of the development. It’s an opportunity to develop a neighborhood library,” Carey told The Brooklyn Paper.
In a related action, the city intends to seek proposals for a 200-unit apartment building, with half reserved for low- and middle-income people, on a lot next to the Mark Morris Dance Center at the northwest corner of Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place.`
Jed Walentas said the new deal is a win for everyone.
“The city wants to create parking, they want great architecture, they want as much open space as possible and they want to make as much money out of it as possible,” said Walentas.