Library bookmarks Brooklyn Heights branch plans

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The Brooklyn Public Library has picked seven possible designs for the new building that will house the Brooklyn Heights branch as part of a controversial redevelopment plan forcing the book repository to share space with apartments and possibly retail outlets, library honchos announced on Thursday.

The proposals all include about a third of a football field for a library but otherwise range wildly, including buildings from 20 to 40 stories and featuring touches such as a rooftop park (in two designs) and a permanent branch of the hipster foodie bazaar Smorgasburg (in one). As for the reading rooms, they will be modern and built to last, according to library higher-ups.

“The basic goal of this project is to create a spectacular new library to be used for the next 100 years,” said library system spokesman Joshua Nachowitz.

The scheme would allow a developer to scoop up the valuable Cadman Plaza West property on which the branch sits, build a high-rise on the site, and allocate space for a new branch on the ground floor, minus the current business library, which would move to the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

The biblio-big-wigs received the proposals on Sept. 20 but kept them secret until last night, when they were unveiled at a public meeting.

One pitch changes the building entrance from Cadman Plaza West to Tillary Street. Another includes a permanent home for Smorgasburg, culinary counterpart to the Brooklyn Flea, a party room, and a cafe attached to the library.

Some designs have retail stores sharing the ground floor with the library. Others employ large glass walls, which Nachowitz said would be equipped with big shades to keep books from getting damaged.

Several of the proposals incorporate the original bas-relief that currently graces the library’s entrance and is a favorite of patrons.

Library officials did not disclose who the developer-suitors are, though Nachowitz said a controversial company with the initials “F.C.” was not involved, a likely reference to Forrest City Ratner. The spokesman would also not reveal the plans’ price-tags, saying only that they were “competitive.”

The process has been open from the beginning, according to Nachowitz, despite criticism from opponents of the redevelopment who say the whole thing has been opaque from start to finish.

“We don’t want to do what the city usually does — which is going to a community board meeting with a contract in hand,” he said.

The library plans to sign a contract with one of the seven developers within the first three months of 2014, at which point it will hire an architect to take community input and design an interior for the space, Nachowitz said. Under the redevelopment, the library will own its section of the building the way a condominium owner does.

The library claims it is replacing the existing branch building because of a broken air conditioning system it says would cost millions to fix.

The complex will be the first in Brooklyn to include both a library and housing, Nachowitz said. The library says it is aiming to keep the new branch open seven days a week, but the extra day would be contingent on money from an ever-shrinking citywide library budget.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 2:20 am, July 22, 2015
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Reasonable discourse

Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
This is a real estate give way pure and simple. The library is just a diversion. The BPL Board in typical slumlord fashion has allowed the library to decline and has not raised or invested one penny in it. It now wants to evict the tenant and replace it with luxury condos. The BPL Board is controlled by Bloomberg poodles. Elections have consequences and if we are to be one city we cannot downsize and relocate libraries.
STOP THIS GIVE AWAY. IT IS NOT A DONE DEAL Write to Mayor-elect DEBlasio and Borough President Elect Eric Adams tell them we want a Library Board that preserves Libraries. Not a Board that gives away Public Assets to connected developers
Dec. 13, 2013, 4:32 am
T-Bone from DoBro says:
Geez, lady - you really care about the library. Why don't you try to get on the board.
Dec. 13, 2013, 11:09 am
Michael D D White from Brooklyn Heights says:
How many stories? "20 to 40? Really?

The tallest proposal was set to be perhaps 551 feet, the height of a 55-story building and the second tallest maybe 470 feet, the height of a 47-story building. . .

The BPL has given no assurance or information that I know of as to how many stories will actually be built, just some interim information about potential heights.

And all seven of the proposals released after being held for a total of almost three months might each actually be bigger because none of them so far uses all of the available development rights.

More, with some stunning visuals of what may be possible available at Noticing New York, here:

Monday, December 16, 2013
Tall Stories- Buildings Proposed To Shrink The Brooklyn Heights Library: Brooklyn Public Library Publishes Seven Luxury Building Proposals To Shrink Away Brooklyn Heights Library
Dec. 23, 2013, 11:34 pm

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