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Community reaction to the Brooklyn Public Library’s plan to rebuild its Sunset Park branch to add affordable housing and a bigger library was strongly negative at the public meeting Monday, reported DNAinfo.

“It smells like gentrification,” said one of the more than 75 locals who attended. Even the executive director of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District didn’t like the plan.

As reported yesterday, the library would partner with nonprofit Fifth Avenue Committee to build a bigger library, which the library would own as a condo, as part of an eight-story affordable rental building. The structure of the deal is similar to other library and church development plans taking place in Brooklyn, but instead of for-profit development of mixed market rate and affordable housing, it would be 100 percent affordable.

Without commenting on the merits of the plan either way, we think the strongly negative reaction is telling of a shift in public perception of affordable housing. Rampant for-profit development of market rate housing with a small percentage of affordable housing may be tainting public perception of all affordable housing, and turning public opinion against development. Or maybe people just want their libraries to stay libraries. What do you think?

Sunset Park Locals Blast Plan to Add Affordable Units in Library Overhaul [DNA]
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

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The Brooklyn Public Library is considering partnering with nonprofit Fifth Avenue Committee to replace its one-story Sunset Park branch library at 5108 4th Avenue with an eight-story building that will house a bigger library as well as affordable rental apartments. There would be 55 units, 54 of which would be affordable and one of which would be for the building super, DNAinfo reported.

All but 10 of the rentals would be priced at half the current market rates, according to an email DNAinfo received from the Fifth Avenue Committee. Studios would rent for $525 to $750 a month, and three-bedroom apartments would be priced at $796 to $1,249 a month. The remaining 10 units would be aimed at “moderate” income households and would range from $1,000 for a studio to $1,595 for a three bedroom.

The library would increase in size from 12,000 square feet to 17,000 square feet. The library would own its space as a condo; the rest of the building would be owned by the Fifth Avenue Committee. The project would cost about $25,000,000. (Presumably Fifth Avenue Committee would buy the property and finance the construction, minus the cost of the library condo, but the story didn’t go into those details.)

Library officials held a public meeting Monday with Community Board 7 at the library to discuss the plan. What do you think of it?

525-a-Month Studios Proposed for Redevelopment of Sunset Park Library [DNA]
Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

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Yesterday evening the board of the Brooklyn Public Library voted to go ahead with its plan to sell the Cadman Plaza branch to raise $40,000,000 for upkeep of other branches. Hudson Companies Inc. has been chosen as the developer of the new mixed-use building at 280 Cadman Plaza West. There will be space for a 21,000-square-foot library at its base and 132 market rate units, the library announced last night. Hudson will pay $52,000,000 to buy the site and construct 114 affordable units offsite, which will open at the same time as the building (about 2019 or 2020).

Marvel Architects will design the building. You can read more about it on the library’s website. (more…)

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Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch at Grand Army Plaza needs $100,000,000 in repairs but only has enough cash to cover $30,000,000, according to a report in The New York Daily News. Library officials are about to begin repairing the cracked and leaking roof over the wing on the Flatbush Avenue side, which will cost $1,400,000.

The current roof will be torn off and replaced with membrane roofing, a more durable alternative to traditional asphalt roofs. Next year, the library plans to repair the branch’s Grand Lobby, update aging fire alarms, and fix its creaky elevators. The 73-year-old Art Deco building also has faulty air conditioning, cracked windows, and decaying bathrooms with broken sinks and toilets.

The de Blasio administration allocated $18,000,000 for capital repairs across the BPL’s 60-branch system, which requires an estimated $300,000,000 in repairs. The library is still planning to sell its Brooklyn Heights branch to a developer. Officials began evaluating proposals for a mixed-use condo building with the library on the ground floor in December.

Brooklyn’s Central Library Branch Needs $100 Million in Repairs [NYDN]
Photo by gigi_nyc

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Get a free bike helmet today and bike around Brooklyn’s historic landmarks this weekend with Brooklyn Public Library’s Bike the Branches event. BPL is hosting a helmet fitting and giving away free helmets today at the Central Branch at 10 Grand Army Plaza from 4 to 6:30 pm.

And on Saturday, kids and adults can bike to all 60 of BPL’s neighborhood libraries and participate in various special events. African dancing and folk tales at Clarendon Library in Flatbush, puppet-making for children at the Brower Park branch in Crown Heights, and a Slavic Soul party in Sheepshead Bay are just a few on the long list of events taking place all over Brooklyn.

The library has also posted 12 themed bike routes that highlight Brooklyn’s historic places, including landmarked architecture, breweries and distilleries, literary sites, and early settlements. You can register for Saturday’s bike tour here — tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children or seniors. All the proceeds go towards maintaining and upgrading the library’s branches.

Photo by Brooklyn Public Library via Brooklyn Based

Brownsville’s Stone Avenue Library is commemorating its 100th anniversary and its recent reopening after five months of renovations and improvements at a press conference this morning. When it first opened in September 1914 as a children’s library, hundreds of children lined up to explore the Gothic-style building at 581 Mother Gaston Boulevard, which was designed to look like a fairy tale castle by William B. Tubby, said a story in The New York Times.

Financed by Andrew Carnegie, it was one of the country’s first libraries devoted entirely to children. If you want to see what the library looked like when it first opened, the Times has a great slideshow with photos from its early years.

The branch has received several improvements, including a gigantic chess board and a “Word Wall” displaying 600 words children should know by 5th grade. During construction, the library was closed as briefly as possible — from November 30 to January 16 and from March 8 to 17. Check out the new interior after the jump!

A Brownsville Sanctuary, 100 Years and Counting [NY Times]
Photo via Historic Districts Council

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Clinton Hill Library reopened yesterday with an improved interior after five months of renovations. Improvements include a new self-checkout, new central A/C and heating, LEED lighting and ceiling panels, a new paint job, a drawable wall in the children’s room, an updated information desk, new window treatments, new furniture, and a reconfigured, brighter interior space.

The library first opened in 1974 at 380 Washington Avenue. It’s between Lafayette and Greene. Click through to the jump for interior photos.

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Next time you’re stuck at the main Brooklyn Public library with nothing to eat, you can indulge in some pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, which opened a cafe inside the library on Tuesday. The three-year-old pie shop run by two sisters in Gowanus has gained quite a following among Brooklyn foodies and recently published a cookbook. For now, the cafe in the library at Grand Army Plaza is still under construction and serving a small menu of Stumptown coffee, banana bread and fruit, Grub Street reported earlier this week.

And pie-baking sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen have teamed up with another pair of chef siblings, John and Mike Poiarkoff of The Pines and Vinegar Hill House, to serve sandwiches and seasonal dishes. On March 14, they’ll begin serving a full menu that will include a roast beef sandwich with homemade kimchee and horseradish mayo and a sandwich featuring hummus made with seasonal veggies. When the team is finished renovating the space, it will have white tiles, marble-topped counters and 18 tables, plus outdoor seating during warmer weather.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds’s Elsen Sisters Opening Brooklyn Public Library Café [Grub Street] GMAP
Photo by gigi_nyc

The Brooklyn Public Library has just released its top seven proposals for redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Branch at Cadman Plaza West and Tillary, which will be a mixed-use condo building with the library on the ground floor. The BPL and the city’s Economic Development Corporation issued a request for proposals in June, and received such a large number of proposals that it became one of the most competitive RFPs EDC has ever issued, library officials said yesterday.

Each proposal was designed by a different team of developers and architects (who remain anonymous for now). Designs vary widely but had to include affordable housing and at least 20,000 square feet of library space with no more than 5,000 square feet below grade. Developers are also required to identify and pay for interim space for the library. Some designs include rooftop parks, others have retail space or cafes, but they are all ultimately high-rise condo developments. After construction finishes, the library portion of the building will still be owned by the city in the form of a condo. The new library will be larger, open seven days a week and offer more space for collections, technology, programs and quiet study than the current branch, according to library execs. All the designs are as-of-right according to the site’s current zoning and FAR and will have to be vetted through the lengthy land use review process. Officials estimate the project will be ULURP-certified by late 2014.

Library execs said the sale of the existing branch to a private developer will generate much-needed funding for the Brooklyn Public Library system, which needs an estimated $300,000,000 in maintenance and repairs across all of its branches. Click through the jump to see all the renderings and details for each proposal.

Brooklyn Public Library Evaluating Proposals for Downtown Branch Sale, Development [Brownstoner]
City Releases RFP for Brooklyn Heights Library Site [Brownstoner]

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Councilman David Greenfield announced today at a press conference that he had secured funding to build a new public plaza in front of the Midwood branch library at 975 East 16th Street near Avenue J. The $250,000 project, financed from the 2014 city budget, will likely feature benches, trees and various kinds of plants, according to a press release. GMAP

Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

The Gerritsen Beach Public Library celebrated its reopening this morning after nearly a year of repairing devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.  During the hurricane, the library was flooded and the already aged roof was damaged, creating leaks throughout the building. The library needed $1.5 million in repairs after most of the interiors and the HVAC system were destroyed. The city demolished the damaged sections and installed new electrical systems, floor tiles, shelving and millwork. There’s also new furniture, computer stations, two new public self-check machines and a new book drop. The Brooklyn Public Library partly funded the repairs with a $300,000 grant from the AIG Disaster Relief Fund and $250,000 from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. More pictures of the new interior after the jump!

Photos by Brooklyn Public Library

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