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Culture shock: Library, arts spaces in Ft. Greene tower delayed indefinitely due to dragging deal

Stalled: Work on long-promised cultural facilities at the bottom of Two Trees's Ashland Place tower is at a standstill because the city has yet to finalize a deal to aquire the space from the developer.
Brooklyn Paper
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Work on long-promised new cultural spaces inside a Fort Greene tower near the Brooklyn Academy of Music is delayed indefinitely, until the city can hash out a deal with the building’s developer to acquire the sites and break ground, according to a rep for the agency overseeing the project.

“NYCEDC is working diligently with the developer to finalize acquisition and transfer details of the property,” said a rep for the city’s Economic Development Corporation. “We look forward to advancing this project and delivering a vibrant cultural facility that’s aligned with the community’s vision.”

Back in 2013, the city approved Brooklyn-based developer Two Trees’s plans to construct its 32-story tower dubbed 300 Ashland on a former city-owned parking lot bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, and Ashland and Hanson places.

The project included setting aside ground-floor space in the building for new cultural centers — including a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, a home for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, space for African-arts group 651 Arts, and Brooklyn Academy of Music cinemas — as well as other commercial operations, including Whole Foods and Apple Store outposts.

The tech store and supermarket opened in late 2017 and early 2018, respectively, but the cultural spaces are at a standstill until city officials and Two Trees bigwigs can agree to terms on their deal, according to the Economic Development Corporation rep, who said the ink should dry on the agreement by the fall.

“The delay is due to ongoing negotiations and a need to finalize terms of acquisition,” he said. “We hope to complete the transfer by summer-fall of this year, and costs are still being finalized.”

Still, work on the new reading room and cultural spaces now won’t kick off any sooner than next year, according to a Brooklyn Public Library rep, who back in September said book lenders had yet to receive a green light or final timeline for the job from the city.

A rep for Two Trees said its leaders are working closely with the economic agency — which this month went back to the drawing board with its 15-years-in-the-making plan to build a green space above a high-tech parking garage Downtown when it severed ties with the project’s developer — to finalize the agreement and start work on the cultural facilities.

“Two Trees has been working diligently with EDC for months on facilitating the transfer of the completed core and shell of the cultural space to the city,” a spokesman for the real-estate firm said. “Everyone is on the same page about the urgency of getting this cultural facility finally opened.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, February 20, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Frank from Furter says:
The city owned the land. Why wasn't this completed when the land was transferred? Is the edc just totally incompetent or corrupt?
Feb. 20, 4:34 am
Michael says:
The city can just prevent 2 trees from any further developments until this deal is finalized. I'm certain they would figure out the details more quickly then.
Feb. 20, 9:15 am
Michael says:
The name is also fitting because they clearly would like to pave over all of New York until there are no more than two trees remaining in their cheaply built glass and concrete sea.
Feb. 20, 9:16 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Surprise Surprise Surprise!
Feb. 20, 9:33 am
Lawrence from Fort Greene says:
It’s shameful that these community spaces are put on hold, when the community allows the building of these huge buildings contingent on public community spaces, cultural spaces and parks being part of the deal. We need to put pressure on the city and the EDC to deliver on their promises. Why is it that Whole Foods and Apple negotiated so quickly yet we have to wait another year. Some transparency is warranted here. Something very fishy going on?
Feb. 20, 10:50 am
Reggie says:
What Frank said. "Ongoing negotiations?" All of the terms for selling the "cultural" space should have been nailed down before the city transferred the property to Two Trees. I bet if the developer wasn't able to get a C of O for the commercial space without having delivered the cinema/library to BAM and BPL, it would have been more motivated to close the deal.
Feb. 20, 12:20 pm
Sid from Boerum hill says:
make two trees build the garage at Willobee square before they get one more NYEDC contract
Feb. 20, 12:38 pm
Agreement with everyone posting from Brooklyn says:
There should be no deals with Two Trees anymore. I worked with these people before and they fired me for not lying to their benefit. The EDCs seem corrupt in general. How could they give away city property? Is there anyway for the citizens of Brooklyn to sue these people? This article actually makes me want to puke.
Feb. 20, 4:19 pm
Watching deBlasio's Best Friends from Ft Greene says:
We ain't seen nuthin' yet...watch what happens w/80 Flatbush monster towers-being built by a 'generous' developer stealing our 'hood, sky, and air supposedly for the public good...Schools! Affordable Housing! Cultural Space! Gee Whiz!!! NYers have been had by the phony 'progressive' Mayor and the co-opted Council Members of Ft Greene & Boerum Hill who enable these greedy REBNY Corporate Masters of the Universe who've done so much damage to both livability but also have displaced so many in our communities. Sadly more is coming...you can check w/the complicit CB2 which far too often defers to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership -as well as BPAdams! They seem thrilled to be 'partners' in the rape of Brooklyn's hoods.
Feb. 20, 6:20 pm
Jack from Farragut says:
Two Trees breached the contract. Put 300 Ashland into receivership of NYC,with rents used to create BPL branch, museum, 351 Arts, BAM Cinema. Prohibit Two Trees from doing business in NYC.
Feb. 20, 8:42 pm
Truth Hurts from Brooklyn says:
Adams has skeletons, he abused women I hear. There's stuff that folk thought would come out on him, but since he's doing the bidding of the developers, he seems safe. He has #MeToo moments, folk kept the emails... Waiting on some type of catastrophe from construction to happen in downtown Brooklyn before people realize what's going on with DeBlaz. He's a creep, yes. They are raping Brooklyn as we knew it.
Feb. 20, 11:14 pm

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