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Brooklyn Heights Public Library Redevelopment Approved

New York

In a heated meeting filled with boos and shouts from audience members holding signs, the Community Board voted 25 to 14 in favor of a controversial redevelopment plan for the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Four members abstained from the vote. Through the plan, Hudson Cos will replace the decaying library at 280 Cadman Place West with a new structure, topped by market rate condos. In exchange, Hudson will also build 114 affordable housing units in Clinton Hill, the New York Times reports. $40M out of the $52M from the sale of the land will be used to help branches at Pacific, Washington Irving, Walt Whitman, and Sunset Park. The city's 2016 budget includes a large increase in funding for libraries, but it's still not enough to cover the roughly $300M in capital needs across all the branches. Brooklyn Public Library president and chief executive Linda Johnson feels that this project will "make a dent" in that amount. Meanwhile, naysayers oppose privatizing public space and worry that the library will shrink. The audience applauded some community board members who suggested a new school on the site or affordable housing closer to the site instead of in Clinton Hill. The plan does come with a few provisions, which include the following:

  • $2M to be set aside to maintain the library once it's fully completed.
  • The new library must have the same amount of usable space as the current one.
  • A community benefits plan needs to be made.

Next stop is the office of the borough president, and if all goes according to plan, construction should begin in 2016. [NYT]