Library, arts group on R’Hook branch privatization plan: We’re all ears

Space to work: This artist's rendering shows the plan for the Red Hook library overhaul, which a real estate group wants to include dance studios.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Red Hook isn’t putting on its dancing shoes quite yet.

The library system’s plan to carve out part of the neighborhood’s branch to let real estate group Spaceworks rent it as dance studios is plodding ahead, but after an outpouring of opposition from neighbors, the partners say they want to hear more input from neighbors.

“We heard the community and we need to talk more,” said Colleen Ross, a spokeswoman for Spaceworks. “There are a lot of opinions, and that takes a little time, especially in the summer.”

Neither Spaceworks nor the Brooklyn Public Library has released a timeline for the project, which, coinciding with other planned renovations to the branch, would close the place for at least eight months. The partners had hoped to begin construction on the performance-art complex inside the library by the end of the year, and despite setting aside more time to consult community leaders and Red Hook neighbors, Ross said they are moving ahead as planned, as far as she knows.

An opponent of the plan hesitated to declare victory on Wednesday, calling the additional opportunities for input a “sorta-victory.”

“This is a good example of what can happen when the public finds out what is going and they don’t like it,” said Michael White, a library advocate who has opposed the privatization plan. “If a program like this is appropriate for the library, it should be done by the library.”

Under the plan, Spaceworks would contribute $650,000 to cover the construction of dance studios that would take up slightly less than half of the one-story library’s main room. The organization would then rent the space to local performing artists at supposedly affordable rates, while paying a fee to the library which both parties have so far refused to disclose. The land use committee of the neighborhood’s Community Board 6 voted in July to reconsider the issue at its next meeting after criticizing Spaceworks and the library for not presenting enough information about the plan.

Dozens of Red Hookers showed up to the July meeting, most to inveigh against the scheme, which the committee had previously approved but which the board’s executive body kicked back after deciding there had not been enough public notice. That contentious meeting was part of the reason the library decided it would have to invest more time in reaching out, a library spokeswoman said.

“We heard the community’s concerns, and are going to have a robust dialogue with Red Hook residents, community leaders, and elected officials before moving forward with any project,” said library spokeswoman Emma Woods. “Our goal is, and has been, to create a dynamic and vibrant library that serves the needs of the Red Hook community.”

The private Spaceworks was created by the Bloomberg administration in 2011 to maintain low-cost art space throughout the city. The organization operates studios in Queens and Gowanus, and is working on a scheme at the Williamsburg library similar to the one lined up for Red Hook.

No meeting dates have yet been set.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

freddy from slope says:
And so the weasel word watch begins...

NOTE: Spaceworks website no longer advertises "real estate development organization" but is now a
"community development organization"

Neither Spaceworks nor the Brooklyn Public Library has released a timeline for the project,

moving ahead as planned, as far as she knows.

while paying a fee to the library which both parties have so far refused to disclose.

Spaceworks would contribute $650,000 to cover the construction of dance studios (note not improving the library at all)

FOLLOW THE MONEY... and the funders
Aug. 7, 2014, 7:14 am
K. from ArKady says:
I guess if I went to the library with the crazy notion of reading a book in a quiet place, I might be bothered by a booming dance studio in the adjacent room.
Aug. 7, 2014, 1:04 pm
marsha rimler from brooklyn says:
This is another example as to why the BPL Board and CEO must go.. They are out of touch with the community they are supposed to serve. The Board is dominates by Real Estate interests, Bloomberg poodles and the elitists who control other organizations.
We need to restore democracy to the Library which
gets 80% of its funds from public monies. I fully understand the french revolution.. Off with their heads
Aug. 8, 2014, 7 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Oh, K, that ship has sailed. The library staff in my local branch doesn't even bother shushing the children anymore, even on the adult floor. It's up to the patrons to do that now. I remember when entering the library was like entering a church.
Aug. 19, 2014, 12:42 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
The Red Hook Star Review Community Newspaper has a sharply astute editorial on the Red Hook Library Spaceworks privatizing space grab and library shrinkage as colonialism and lazy library management.

"The dictionary definition of colonialism is: the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically."

See: Editorials, Red Hook Library
Editorial: The Red Hook Library and colonialism
July 26, 2014

Help fight the sell-offs and shrinkage of library space: Sign the Citizens Defending Libraries- It's a NEW one. If you think you have signed it, but haven't signed it in the last few months you haven't signed this up-to-date version.

Mayor de Blasio: Rescue Our Libraries from Developer Destruction
Aug. 21, 2014, 11:15 am
Henrietta Perkins from Red Hook NYCHA says:
I am hearing that this red hook library will be closed in a year. I questioned Felix Ortiz and he told me that was not true, that the library will be closed for renovations. my community would also like to be informed of another meet between spaceworks and library I can be reached at 718.935.0398.
please do not forget to inform us, thanks....
Aug. 25, 2014, 11:42 am

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