What Happened to the Promised Public Library and Arts Space at 300 Ashland in Fort Greene?

Photo by Craig Hubert

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Are the long-promised Brooklyn Public Library and cultural organizations ever coming to 300 Ashland Place?

Located at the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette avenues in Fort Greene, the metal-clad building opened in 2016. Back in 2013, when plans for the TEN Arquitectos-designed building were filed, developer Two Trees announced that 50,000 square feet of the building would be dedicated to cultural organizations, including a new branch of the Brooklyn Library.

But since then, the cultural organizations have not appeared and there has been little news of their status.

300 ashland

Photo by Craig Hubert

Leasing launched for 379 apartments, including 76 affordable units, in 2016. Brooklyn’s second Apple store opened at its base in 2017, and a Whole Foods 365 debuted in January.

As late as 2017, those cultural spaces were expected to open in 2018, according to reports at the time. Now that date appears to have slipped until at least 2020, according to organizations involved in the project.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is overseeing the cultural spaces. So far, no requests for proposals to build out the spaces appear to have been issued. The NYCEDC did not respond to a request for comment.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has been organizing events in public plaza but confirmed they have nothing to do with the cultural organizations at the development.

Many of the cultural organizations who are involved expect the project to start work soon.

“Our expectation is that the library construction should be complete in late 2020, but we don’t have a specific construction schedule from the city yet,” said a representative from the Brooklyn Public Library.

Photo by Susan De Vries

Photo by Susan De Vries

“We’re hopeful that construction can begin early next year,” a representative from BAM said. For the new space, they are planning additional cinemas, a new home for their archives and a flexible space for educational events.

The development has gone by a number of different names and addresses over the years, including 286 Ashland Place and BAM South. The property was owned by the city, which transferred title to the NYCEDC in 2010. An LLC — presumably Two Trees — named 20 Lafayette bought the entire property from the NYCEDC in 2013 for $16.5 million.

Representatives for MoCADA and 651 Arts, the two other cultural organizations initially announced for the project, did not respond to a request for comment.

The project joins a number of others in the borough whose public amenities were delivered well after private development, such as Bushwick Inlet Park, promised in exchange for the 2005 rezoning of the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront.

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