New library to lend low-income apartments

On the books: Beep’s cash backs controversial Sunset Park library plan
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

The Sunset Park library’s controversial redevelopment will create homes for the neediest Brooklynites, developers say.

The group that’s buying the book-lender from the city and rebuilding it with 49 below-market-rate apartments on top plans on renting the pads to a range of low-income tenants, including those who qualify for federal housing assistance, a rep said.

“All 49 units are going to low-income, it’s just for a variety within that,” Jay Marcus, director of Housing Development for developer The Fifth Avenue Committee.

The company aims to buy the library at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 51st Street from the city, raze the 43-year-old structure, and erect an eight-story apartment complex with a library on the bottom. Critics have opposed the plan on the grounds the city is privatizing public land.

The apartments will be available through a city-run affordable-housing lottery open to people with annual incomes between $22,500 for a single person and $86,967 for a family of four. Half the units will be set aside for current residents of Community Board 7, and nine will got to local domestic violence victims currently living in a shelter, plans show. In addition, eight units will be handicap-accessible and eight will accept Section 8 vouchers.

Rents in 39 units will range from $532 monthly for the lowest-priced studios to $1,272 a month for the most expensive three-bedrooms. The Fifth Avenue Committee has not said what it will charge for the remaining 10 units — intended for higher-earning-but-technically-low-income tenants — but the digs will definitely be below market rate, according to information from the Committee.

The developer has signed an agreement to keep rents artificially low for at least 50 years, even if it sells the building.

The plan is still going through a public review process. Developers will pitch it to Community Board 7’s land-use committee on Nov. 3, but Council has the final say whether it goes through.

Meantime, the Fifth Avenue Committee is working with area housing groups to let locals know about the impending apartments, which could be ready by spring 2019.

“What’s very important to us is to make sure that everybody gets to apply and we want to make sure we’re reaching the hardest-to-reach,” said Marcus. “Particularly because people earning about minimum wage very often work longer hours or have the longer commutes.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.