Adams changes tune on Heights library sale, votes to approve

Library stacks: Renderings of the proposed wedge-shaped 36-story tower a developer wants to build on the Brooklyn Heights Library.
Brooklyn Paper
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Borough President Adams shelved his objections to the $52-million sale and redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights library branch on Tuesday night, lending his support to a crucial vote needed for the controversial deal to go ahead.

The Beep joined the majority of the borough’s Council members and community board chairs in okaying the sale 15–1 with one abstention at a charged Borough Board meeting, where protesters demanded pols halt the vote amid accusations of cronyism and cooked books.

Adams had rejected an earlier version of the Brooklyn Public Library’s plan to sell the shabby Cadman Plaza book-lending facility and allow developer Hudson Companies to build a new branch with a 36-story luxury condo tower on top — issuing a lengthy missive in September that said it offered too little space for schools, so-called affordable housing, and the library itself.

But that was before Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights) cut a closed-door deal that included a bit more branch space, an entirely new outpost nearby, and some science labs in exchange for his pivotal support. And the changes were enough to win Adams over too, according to a Borough Hall spokesman.

Many of Adams’ original gripes remain unaddressed, however. Most notably, the developer is still sticking all its required below-market-rate housing far away in a separate Clinton Hill building, which locals have slammed as segregating the rich from the poor.

The Borough Board vote was the latest in a series of rubber stamps the city needs for the sale and new building to go ahead. The deal already passed its biggest hurdle when the Council approved it in December, though the sale has continued to make headlines ever since.

A New York Post report last month claimed several other developers offered far more money for the land, but Mayor DeBlasio made sure it went to Hudson, which is helmed by his old pal and former campaign donor David Kramer.

And this week, the paper reports that an anonymous former lawmaker has joined local anti-sale activists in accusing the library system of sitting on $100 million from previous city budgets, despite its insistence that selling the schlubby Heights branch is the only way it can afford to fix it and other crumbling outposts.

A spokeswoman for the library rejected both allegations, claiming Hudson offered the best deal — albeit with a lower price tag than others — and that the extra cash in question is already earmarked for other future construction projects and can’t be used to fund the renovations.

Activist group Citizens Defending Libraries — which has loudly opposed the sale at public meetings throughout the lengthy public approval process — continued its interjections at Tuesday’s vote, calling on the pols to stall the scheme until there can be a full investigation into the claims.

But Adams finally achieved what many before him have not, shushing the rabble rousers with a stern talking to.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation must approve the sale next, which is expected to happen sometime in the spring.

Library officials say demolition of the old branch will not get underway until an interim facility in the back of Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Remson Street is ready to go.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mitchel Cohen from Bensonhurst says:
Yes, Boro President Adams' vote in favor of the sale was very disappointing. And so were members of the City Council and Community Boards. Amazing, no public comment was allowed prior to the vote.

Kudos to Inez Barron for voting a resounding NO, and to City Council rep Jumaane Williams for abstaining. They were the only members of the City Council who upheld the public interest.

The others -- including my own City Council rep, Vincent Gentile, and right across the street Mark Treyger -- just set an awful precedent for selling off publicly owned libraries and other property to millionaire real estate speculators, for not even anything close to the value of the property, and not even to the highest bidder.

This was a sweetheart real estate give-away by Adams, de Blasio, et al., reminiscent of Tammany Hall corruption, and they must be be held accountable for their disgraceful actions.

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens/Green Party
March 2, 2016, 11:03 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
When I talk to loyal Democrats around the city, they state the same ... De Basio is in the pocket of developers. This is a TERRIBLE precedent, and reminiscent of the New London Supreme Court case green lighting economic development as a public purpose as defined in the Constitution. They will point to this act of transferring public assets to private developers and the rich as the sad continuing legacy of our past and current mayors, and the new corruption of our time.

Public libraries should be cared for as sacred places. Rebuild the libraries; don't sell them.
March 2, 2016, 2:30 pm
marsha rimler from brookly heights says:
Well Eric takes his marching orders from the machine. After all he ran for Borough President unopposed and he owes them. I thought he had more integrity. This deal fashioned by Lander and Levin is disgraceful and will mark their young careers forever- how sad. Others will emerge as they always do to clean out the corruption and those bought and paid for by the real estate lobby that owns them. We at Love Brooklyn Libraries are moving forward.. this is still far from over Stay Tuned
Marsha Rimler
Love Brooklyn Libraries
March 2, 2016, 5:01 pm
b from gp says:
The dysfunctional India Point nuclear power plant is situated near two active fault lines and yet we are multiplying exponentially our demand for its continued use.
March 2, 2016, 7:10 pm
b from gp says:
March 2, 2016, 7:34 pm
Man from Newkirk Plaza says:
Will there not be a library after the tower is constructed? As for "segregating the poor" by building in Clinton Hill: Clinton Hill ain't exactly shabby, if not as upscale as funereal Brooklyn Heights. New library, new housing, Sounds good to me.
March 3, 2016, 1:11 am
Marilyn Berkon from Brooklyn Heights says:
Borough President Adams put the seal of approval on corruption at the March 1 Brooklyn Board meeting. What a disappointment he is to our many communities who had counted upon him for integrity! We thought he stood apart from the unsavory politics that tainted this process regarding the Brooklyn Heights Library. But he supported a Board of people who altogether disregarded the scams associated with this sale--the phony bidding revealed in two NY Post articles, the false claim of poverty by the BPL, the closed-door deal between Steve Levin and the developers, a deal that makes matters only worse for the public and the city, while it pretends improvement. We should not be surprised. Most of the people involved, including the BPL, are all clients of the same publicity firm that the NY Times reporter, Thomas Kaplan revealed as a shadow arm of the city government in his November 5, 2015 article, "De Blasio's Hired Guns." As for Steve Levin, he is an example of a representative who does not speak for his constituents, 95% of whom did not want to see the destruction of this strong, solid library, enlarged, completely renovated and updated 22 years ago. Instead, Levin remained faithful to the publicity firm that dictates instructions to its clients, all of them lackeys serving the "hired guns." We are returning to the era of Tammany Hall. All of us will continue our fight against this corruption. We will save our Brooklyn Heights Library and all the other libraries these people intend to put on the chopping block to favor private developers who steal from the public. As taxpayers, we own this library and the other NYC libraries. We will not allow the theft of what is so valuable in our lives. We will not allow our brazen politicians to welcome trespassers and thieves.
March 3, 2016, 1:20 am
Roberto Gautier from Brooklyn Heights says:
Laurin Gill summarizes in-your-face power relationships that reveal how most elected officials decide policies which their constituents oppose. They side with developers and real estate powers. Money has talked since day one and it is still chatting away. Democracy requires people who are badly governed to vote in new representatives. This requires vigilance and persistence that few have time for. For that reason, those in positions of power keep it. If your elected officials don't represent you, don't re-elect them. Each time a council person or Borough President is put into office, voters agree to pay their salaries - and the reps have just pushed through an increase of their salaries without public input.
March 3, 2016, 7:35 am
John from Prospect Heights says:
I’m very, very pleased that BP Adams and the borough board have finally come around on this. The Brooklyn Heights community will get a much improved library space, Vinegar Hill will get a brand new library, low-income people will get housing, and the Brooklyn Public Library will get a significant cash infusion that can be used to improve branch libraries in less entitled communities that are in desperate need of repairs.

The behavior of the so-called pro-library advocates in this process have been beyond embarrassing. One can only hope that the intellectually dishonest actions of the people behind Citizens Defending Libraries will have removed the last shred of credibility they had in the eyes of the press and public.
March 3, 2016, 10:27 am
pubic from the people says:
He just lost Brooklyn.
Sure hope Adams doesn't expect to run for mayor at any time in his future.
March 3, 2016, 11:06 am
b from gp says:
I vote for whomever is most capable, irregardless of my own personal interests. I have beef with the Participatory Budget, as it is straight up bribery contorted to appear democratic.
March 3, 2016, 11:51 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Unfortunately, most politicians will side with whoever endorses them the most, and I didn't need a book such as Michael Moore's Guide to the 2008 Election to tell me that.
March 3, 2016, 4:02 pm
Clinton St. and Cadman Plaza West are extremely windy. The Tower Crane will fall and crush property and take lives. No wind analysis was ever done except by the New York Times that blasted that intersection as 'The windiest corner in NYC."
The future loss of life and property is on your
head BP Eric Adams.
The EIS did state an extra five hours of shade from the 36 floor condominium will fall on our parks during the afternoons.
If you think our elected officials care for us ...
March 3, 2016, 10:50 pm
b from gp says:
Interesting Justine, I didn't read the EIS for this one. Winds are often overlooked it seems. The building will most likely condense the wind further, in turn increasing its speed and thus compromising the building's insulation, which will most likely be made of styrofoam. This is a concern for some of the cannon waterfront parks, as the trees need to be able to withstand the newly increased gusts.

Our traditional brick and stone city blocks are more efficient at huddling together, than freestanding veneer towers, though not as exciting.

The design, particularly at the street level needs to be improved upon ;)
March 3, 2016, 11:26 pm
b from gp says:
Marvel's Saint Ann's warehouse turned out nicely. Better than being engulfed by Handel and CetraRuddy, a design nightmare!
March 3, 2016, 11:40 pm
b from gp says:
Oh dear, one of their ground ups is Pierhaus. Anticipate something pseudo hip and value engineered. Architectural history will look back on this time and burp, if we've not yet been zapped into smithereens by India Point or inundated by rising water levels.

I miss the Donnell.
March 4, 2016, 12:13 am
Roberto Gautier from Brooklyn Heights says:
The comments by Justine Schwartz pointed to two serious problems: Clinton Street & Cadman Plaza West was called "the windiest corner in NYC" by the NYTimes. Given reports of so many fatal crane crashes at construction sites, this is disturbing because of cavalier behavior & lax standards.
Plus, the Environmental Impact Statement for the 36-story Hudson Companies tower planned to top our library will block the sun and result in 5 more hours of shade on Cadman Plaza Park.
Mayors Bloomberg & Di Blasio will be remembered as heads of two regimes that dissed people by blocking the sun over significant stretches of NYC.
March 4, 2016, 10:33 am
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Hieghts says:
Here is a page with great pics of the rally Citizens Defending Libraries held with other community the evening before the vote asking the Borough President and Borough Board for transparency and not to sell the library that includes our letter to the Eric Adams and our press release.

Monday, February 29, 2016
PHOTO & VIDEO GALLERY: February 29, 2016 Press Conference- Request Eric Adams Postpone Brooklyn Borough Board Vote
March 6, 2016, 8:21 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Hieghts says:
Levin has gone through the most incredible gyrations to avoid his fundamental obligation to insist on transparency from the BPL.

See: Thursday, February 18, 2016, Councilman Stephen T. Levin Comes To Speak About His Approving The Sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library at Independent Neighborhood Democrats Meeting- Doesn’t Answer Questions Asked, Including Whether & When He Will Insist on Transparency from the BPL
March 6, 2016, 8:26 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Hieghts says:
See. . . .

March 6, 2016, 8:27 pm
100% Corrupt NYC govt. 100% controlled by 1% from Crown Heights says:
As I had predicted, Eric Adams would approve the public library selloffs--with 100% certainty. I am proven correct, 100%.

Why do not others know better. One just knows, even just by looking at Adams, that he is a conventional corporate politician. The type of despicable politicians that masses of Americans have come to revile. Politicians like him are the reason for the surge of insurgent campaigns by figures such as Trump, Corbyn or Sanders, or Jill Stein.

Adams is an establishment Corporate Media-supported politician, like Obama. To put it nicely, he is a career politician--ultimately a politician the 1% can trust and rely on to carry out what they want--WHERE IT MATTERS MOST eg. whether it is public library assets selloffs, or TPP.

To the low-information voters: keep voting for despicable politicians such as Adams, and we will continue to get exactly what we have been getting.

We need to hold politicians accountable. Just watch what the 1% does to politicians who do are not in their camp. We need to do the same--ie. hold politicians personally accountable.
March 8, 2016, 2:17 pm

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