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Could the sale of the Brooklyn Heights public library to a private developer result in condos but no library? Is the site’s $52,000,000 price tag fleecing the public? Is offsite affordable housing segregationist?

Those are just a few of the cutting questions that emerged at a full-capacity City Council subcommittee hearing Wednesday to get the facts on the controversial sale of the current Brooklyn Heights library site to private developer Hudson Companies.

“This is the most controversial issue I’ve seen in my district since my election in 2009,” said Council Member Steve Levin in his opening remarks. “Passions are running high. Here, we need to look at the objective facts.”

Brownstoner doesn’t often attend City Council meetings, but we had a feeling this debate would be gripping. We were right.

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In a surprising move, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams submitted his official recommendation to “disapprove with conditions” the plan to sell and redevelop the Brooklyn Public Library branch at 280 Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn Heights. Adams’ announcement is an official part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and means that nine affirmative votes are required from the City Planning Commission on September 22 in order for the development plan to move forward for a City Council vote.

Adams took issue with the fact that the plan contained no explicit guarantee that cash from the library sale would go back to the Brooklyn Public Library rather than into the city’s general fund. He proposed additional changes to the proposal, including adding a public school annex for the overcrowded PS 8 and permanent affordable housing to the site.

Adams also outlined an entirely new model for funding Brooklyn’s library system.

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At the start of yesterday’s public hearing on the controversial plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights Library, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams asked the packed courtroom to maintain a certain level of decorum, reminding the 200-plus attendees, “we can disagree without being disagreeable.”

After the impassioned outbursts at July’s community board meeting on the Heights Library project, Adams seemed determined to keep things civil, saying:

“There is no way the most highly educated part of our city cannot come to an agreement on how we move forward to navigate the challenges of this conversation. This library conversation is only one of many… If Brooklyn can’t get it right, no other city is going to get it right.”

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Artisanal coffee purveyor Brooklyn Roasting Company is about to move into a newly renovated building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Brownstoner got a sneak peek of Building 123, a former power plant built in 1900 that is now part of the Yard’s Green Manufacturing Center. Brooklyn Roasting Company will soon transform the entire 32,852 square foot industrial space into a haven for the coffee-obsessed.

Company co-founder Michael Pollack told Brownstoner, “What we work with is the original power plant — coffee trees and beans. So this is the perfect place for us to call home.”

The building will serve as a centralized location for the company’s roasting, packaging, and distribution process, which is currently spread across BRC’s two existing Brooklyn locations.

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During a public meeting last night, developer Hudson Companies revealed the locations of two affordable rental buildings that will be built along with market-rate units at the new Brooklyn Heights Library branch. Hudson will construct 114 units of affordable housing at 911-917 Atlantic Avenue (above) and 1041-1047 Fulton Street in Clinton Hill. The affordable units will be 100 percent privately financed, according to a press release from the Brooklyn Public Library.

On Fulton Street, it looks like Hudson will take over existing plans for a six-story, 28-unit building at 1045 Fulton. Karl Fischer first filed those plans under a different developer in 2013, and a funeral home and two neighboring buildings have already been demolished.

BPL also announced that the community will be involved the design process for the new library, which will include an online and paper survey, interactive exhibit and a series of workshops. Marvel Architects will lead the first workshop on March 23 at 6:30 pm at the Brooklyn Heights Library at 280 Cadman Plaza West. A second workshop will take place April 20. 

Brooklyn Heights Library Coverage [Brownstoner]
Image via Google Maps