Sunset Park library prepares to open in new building

New Sunset Park Library
The new Sunset Park Library is nearly ready to open at the foot of a mixed-use building with affordable housing.
Photo by Susan De Vries

The new Sunset Park Library is close to opening.

A peek through the windows showed workers are busy unpacking boxes and furnishing and decorating the interior of the new 5108 4th Ave. building. November is the debut month, a banner in the window makes clear.

new sunset park library
The library sits at the foot of an eight-story mixed-use building. Photo by Susan De Vries

A leafy artwork extends along a deep blue wall, and a wooden ceiling shows off mid-century modern style pendant lights.

In the works since 2014, the two-story plus cellar library is twice the size of the old one at 20,000 square feet and sits at the base of a new mid-rise building. The eight-story building, which closely matches its renderings, replaced a one-story library built in 1972.

artwork in Sunset Park library
New paint and artwork liven up the inside of the library. Photo by Susan De Vries

The building’s six upper floors hold 50 units of genuinely affordable housing for households earning 40 percent to 80 percent of Area Median Income. The lottery for 372 51st Street took place in 2021.

The new library space includes a recording studio, teen room, meeting and event spaces, tutoring room, and staff offices, floor plans show. The redevelopment plan by the library and partner Fifth Avenue Committee, which owns the building apart from the library, was controversial.

“It smells like gentrification,” said one of the more than 75 locals who attended a 2014 hearing on the proposal.

books inside sunset park library
The interim library location closed last month to prepare for the opening. Photo by Susan De Vries

At the time, the library was mulling selling off some of its properties to fund capital improvements, which eventually resulted in a new Brooklyn Heights condo branch at the base of luxury condo tower One Clinton. A new Fort Greene branch was promised for the bottom of skyscraper 300 Ashland but has not yet materialized. The Red Hook Library is also closed for two years for a $17 million facelift — to the chagrin of locals. 

The first Sunset Park library branch was a neo-Classical Carnegie library that opened in 1905 at 5108 4th Ave. An interim Sunset Park branch at 4201 4th Ave. closed in September to prepare for the move.

A version of this story first appeared on Brooklyn Paper’s sister site Brownstoner