Renovation of Red Hook Library Postponed Amid Pandemic

Rendering via LEVENBETTS


Brooklyn Public Library has postponed the overhaul of its Red Hook branch until the next city fiscal year, according to a spokesperson for the borough’s book lender.

“During the pandemic, like many other projects across the city, all work was halted,” said Fritzi Bodenheimer. “At this point we are planning for construction to begin in FY 22.”

The Wolcott Street stacks were supposed to undergo a $15 million revamp starting this fall and wrap about 18 months later, with work to flood proof the building, which is situated in a federally designated flood zone, and various redesigns to open up more space for area bookworms.

The delay means the project won’t start construction until some time in the city’s next budget cycle, which spans from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.

The quasi-public Economic Development Corporation manages the scheme paid for by capital funds from local Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Mayor de Blasio.

rendering red hook library

Rendering via LEVENBETTS

Manhattan architects with Levenbetts are behind the design to make the outpost at the corner of Dwight Street more resistant to flooding, after Superstorm Sandy battered the book haven and much of the low-lying neighborhood in 2012.

The designers also want to make the boxy bibliotheque more open by taking down the front gates, installing outdoor seating and greenery to make the facility more welcoming, rearranging the bookshelves inside for more space, and installing floor-to-ceiling windows.

Those plans replaced an earlier unpopular $1.8 million repair scheme from 2014, which included partial privatization of the branch, by ceding a section of the building to arts organization Spaceworks, which would have leased a portion of the facility and turned it into dance and theater studios.

While the current plans are on hold, the lender will remain open for lobby service only amid the coronavirus.

However, in the coming days, Red Hook will be one of two branches — in addition to the Flatbush library — to debut socially distant outdoor tables and chairs in front of the library for patrons to work and read as part of the city’s Street Seats program, according to Bodenheimer.

At the other side of the borough, library leaders on Tuesday reopened a state-of-the-art branch in Greenpoint after a three-year redo, which will double as an environmental learning center and was paid for in part by a settlement for the ExxonMobil oil spill in Newtown Creek.

Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.

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