B’Heights library delayed until summer ’21 and other area library updates

Brooklyn Heights Brooklyn Public Library
The reading room on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

The long-awaited new Brooklyn Heights public library branch at Cadman Plaza W. won’t open until next summer, a year later than originally scheduled, due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the borough lenders.

“The finalization of the design and the complexity of the project added some time to the schedule as did delays due to the pandemic,” said Brooklyn Public Library spokeswoman Fritzi Bodenheimer in a statement Thursday. “This included the initial stoppage of work along with delays when the work resumed (for example having fewer workers on site due to social distancing or waiting for manufacturers/supplies to get back up to speed).”

The fresh set of stacks will open at the lower three floors of the new 38-story luxury condo building at Clinton and Tillary streets dubbed One Clinton after BPL bigwigs sold off the old branch there for $52 million in 2014.

At a recent presentation to Community Board 2’s Youth, Education, and Cultural Affairs committee, library officials presented a slate of new renderings for the incoming 26,000 square-foot branch, which will be the largest outpost in the system outside of the Central Branch in Prospect Heights.

The book haven will have a main hall cutting through the ground floor of the building from Clinton Street to Cadman Plaza W., along with a quiet reading room, David Woloch, executive vice president for external affairs at the library, told the civic panel on Oct. 28.

The library’s main hall will run through the building from Cadman Plaza W. to Clinton Street.Gensler

The mezzanine level above will host a teen space and conference rooms, and a new children’s space will open in the basement.

Two panels of the reliefs that once adorned the old branch entrance will go in two conference rooms and will be visible from Clinton Street, while the remaining four will move to the Walt Whitman branch’s new outdoor garden, which is slated to open either in 2023 or 2024, according to Woloch.

The library will also include a new lab run by the Department of Education where local students can perfect their science, technology, engineering, and math skills. CB2 committee members asked for more details on the STEM facility, but Woloch punted to DOE, saying he couldn’t say what the space would actually entail or whether it would open at the same time as the library.

A teen space with conference rooms will be on the mezzanine level.Gensler

“The STEM space is not our space so it’s great that it’s going to be there, we’re happy that it’s going to be there,” he said. “I think the decision on how that space gets used is going to be up to the DOE.”

A spokeswoman for DOE did not immediately return a request for comment.

BPL sold the space despite local resistance to developers Hudson Companies six years ago to fund the new branch along with sorely-needed repairs around the borough.

The library’s children’s space will be in the basement.

Apartments in the new tower start north of $1 million, but developers also constructed 114 units below-market-rate offsite at two buildings in Clinton Hill.

The temporary library branch on Remsen Street has closed because it was not suitable to operate BPL’s grab-and-go lobby service within COVID-19 restrictions, according to Woloch. Still, Brooklyn Heights bookworms will be able to pick up and drop off books at the former Brooklyn Historical Society on Pierrepont Street come early December, after BHS and BPL merged in February to form the Center for Brooklyn History.

BPL also plans to open its first branch in the Dumbo-Vinegar Hill area on Adams Street, between John and Plymouth streets next summer, replacing its current temporary pints-sized outpost dubbed the “Annex” on John Street.

A rendering of the planned Adams Street branch in Dumbo.WorkAC

Over in Fort Greene, the library will open a 2,700 square-foot branch at the base of the developer Two Trees’s 300 Ashland tower some time in 2022, housing a modest revolving collection of books geared toward the Brooklyn Academy of Music Cultural District, according to Woloch.

“It’s really going to be a special place geared towards its location with a focus on the arts and the cultural happenings in the neighborhood and around the borough,” he said.