How Tall Could the Cadman Library Tower Be?


When the city announced last week its plans to sell two prime library sites, one at Pacific Street and Fourth Avenue and the other at Cadman Plaza and Clinton Street, to developers, there was no mention of how big the replacement buildings could end up being. On his blog Noticing New York this weekend, Michael D. D. White takes a stab at getting his arms around just how tall the Cadman development could end up being. As White notes, the site is zoned C6-4, which means a developer can erect a building with 10 times the floor area of the 25,000-square-foot lot. So there’s 250,000 square feet to start. Then there are additional rights that can come with doing things like providing public outdoor space and room for community facilities (like a library). Add to that the potential to transfer development rights from nearby landmarked buildings and White thinks you could be looking at a largely residential tower well in excess of the 14-story Federal court house across Cadman Plaza. In fact, White reports that a library spokesman has told some people off the record that the tower could end up being as much as 40 stories tall, which is almost twice as tall as the office building at 26 Court Street another hundred feet or so taller than the 30-story residential building just north of Clark Street (shown in the background of the photo above)

White’s piece has plenty of conspiracy theories about how this is all a big set-up for another land grab by Forest City Ratner, including shutting down more of Pacific Street to connect the Fourth Avenue site to the Atlantic Yards complex. We’ll let you judge those for yourself. We’ll only say that we hope that there ends up being a transparent, open bidding process for both sites. And if we’re going to end up with a giant tower on Cadman Plaza, let’s use it as an opportunity for Brooklyn to do some first-class new construction. Too much (as in, almost all) of the architecture that got built in the last boom was mediocre. This is an iconic location and the real estate values nearby are certainly high enough to underwrite a project that could put Brooklyn design on the international map alongside its art, food and culture. Maybe Brooklyn’s even ready for its first truly Class A office building.

11 Comment

  • something big is fine here, imo, as long as it’s decently designed.

    in addition to the library, I hope the DOE will get in there early and lease two floors, at least. PS8 is a year away from maxing out it’s space, even with their new annex (and before the new buildings in Brooklyn Bridge Park which are zoned for 8)..

    A floor leased out to a PS8 early education center (preK and K) would be very helpful. That’s 200 kids right there. And a floor for the new middle school. Westinghouse is too far away from PS8 now. One principal managing two schools in these two locations is just too much.

  • minard

    This is where the density belongs. I read the plan is to include a new branch library in the building base. Sounds like a concept.

  • noladarling

    Call me a size queen, but a 40 story residential / library / school would be perfect for this location. As for its design I’ll leave that to the architect…

  • Is the Pacific Branch a done deal? Not to be all NIMBY, but that is a beautiful building and–though I may just be almost equidistant from that and the Brooklyn Heights branch–I much prefer to go to Pacific.

  • Any such sky-robbing behemoth would throw blocks of brownstones and a wide swath of the neighborhood into shadow for most of the day. Does NYC really need to go with extracting the highest possible density? This move would harken back to the early 20th century before zoning got a handle on cheek by jowl skyscrapers in the downtown Manhattan. Who will stand up for reasonable, people-conscious development?

    • Funny, no one complains about shadows when it comes to trees.

    • What? If you actually read the original post, you would see that the site is actually governed by current zoning. Any effort to exceed the current zoning would be required to conform to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). In fact, any sale of City land (as the Library is), even if a change in zoning is not contemplated, would require a review under ULURP.

      The Community Board, BP, Council, City Planning all get to weigh in on the issue.

  • cp

    if you don’t like density in a city then you should move to the ‘burbs.

  • Yes, the nearby Clark Street subway station is always empty because no one knows it’s the last Brooklyn stop before Wall Street. So a really large office building here is Really Logical. Bet it would fill up with lawyers offices though. I live a block away. I hope this is a fever dream…