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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

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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

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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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The Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch unveiled its newly refurbished front doors today, their beautiful gold-leaf designs restored with the help of a $250,000 award from the Partners in Preservation Program. Partners in Preservation held a citywide competition where 40 different historical sites vied for $3 million in funding, and the public voted online. The BPL received 9 percent of the vote.

Designed by Morton Githens and Francis Keally, the library opened its doors in 1941 with Art Deco detailing by sculptors Thomas Hudson Jones and C. Paul Jennewein. It has a 50-foot entry portico set into a concave facade, flanked by gold-leaf figures showing the evolution of art and science. And above the triple doors, a bronze screen features 15 well-known characters from American literature. Architect Toshiko Mori and architectural metal specialists Jaroff Design led the restoration, which involved “the replacement of the aged bronze patina revolving and paired doors, scissor gates and door saddles, as well as restoring the granite paving at the entrance,” according to a press release.

Above, the ribbon cutting today. From left to right, that’s Roberta Lane, senior field officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cheryl Rosario, Director of Philanthropy for American Express, Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, and Senator Eric Adams. Click through to the jump for a better look at the detail on the doors.

Photos by Brooklyn Public Library

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More than 4,000 New Yorkers voted on their favorite libraries, and three libraries in Brooklyn are among the 10 finalists that could win $10,000. A panel of judges from the Revson Foundation’s new NYC Neighborhood Library Awards will decide which five of those libraries will win the first prize; the next five will get $5,000. The three Brooklyn branches under consideration are the Macon, Sheepshead Bay and Kings Bay libraries. (That’s the Macon branch pictured above.)

The judges are “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine; Kurt Andersen, author and host of WNYC’s Studio 360; Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and former president of the American Library Association; Fatima Shama, NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs; and Don Weisberg, President of the Penguin Young Readers Group.

Photo by audra_martin

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The Economic Development Corporation just released a request for proposals for “qualified developers to purchase and redevelop a premier development site in Brooklyn Heights located at 280 Cadman Plaza West” — in other words, the Brooklyn Heights Library branch.  The City has said it wants to sell the 52-year-old library building and the 26,000-square-foot lot it sits on to a developer to raise funds for repairs throughout the library system. The building would be demolished to make way for a new residential development. The RFP asks that the development includes a new, 20,000-square-foot library branch. The city recently said it would hold onto another Brooklyn library threatened with a similar fate, the Pacific Street branch. Proposals for the Brooklyn Heights site are due by September 9. The Library expects to present its Board of Trustees with a recommended development partner by the end of 2013, and then the developer will go through the ULURP process.
Brooklyn Heights Development Opportunity RFP [NYCEDC]

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As we reported yesterday, the City has agreed not to sell the Pacific branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to developers and move the branch into the BAM South apartment building Two Trees is putting up in Fort Greene. The New York Times took a closer look at the fate of that library and the Brooklyn Heights branch that is also threatened with a sale to developers. “It has become clear that the neighborhood highly values that branch and its historic building,” a spokesman for the library told the Times in a statement. “B.P.L. is committed to working with elected officials and community stakeholders to develop an appropriate plan for the Pacific Street building through an open community process. The plan will acknowledge the needs of the library and the community. This plan could include maintaining some or all of the Pacific Street building and continuing to provide library service and programming for children in the community.” It is still possible that in the future the library could be sold and demolished, but thanks to the new agreement, the City Council would have to approve it. Another possibility is that the library could be gutted while leaving the facade intact. The building is the first Carnegie library built in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn Heights, the library still plans to sell its Cadman Plaza branch, which is only 52 years old, to a private developer. The plan calls for the developer to include a library in any residential tower.
A Deal Spares a Brooklyn Library, for Now [NY Times]
City Council Gives Thumbs up to BAM South [Brownstoner]
Brooklyn Library Testing Ground for New Funding Model [Brownstoner]

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Girl Scout Troop 2657 made this video to save the Pacific Street Library, a property the Brooklyn Public Library plans to sell off. They also started a petition in April, which they read at a press conference on the steps of City Hall. The 17-member troop started advocating for this library because they use its community meeting room every Wednesday. BPL plans call for moving the branch into the new Two Trees development off Fulton Street. The BPL is facing budget cuts and said it cannot afford the $11 million renovation that the building requires. (The BPL also recently put this pop up on their website for Brooklynites to speak out against coming budget cuts.) The proceeds from the building sale would go toward the new branch at the Two Trees site.

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Several weeks ago we ran photos of a house on 13th Street between 3rd and 4th avenues where the owner has been piling up garbage for more than a decade. NBC picked up the story in early August, and it looks like all the attention resulted in the removal of a lot of the junk outside the property. It’s unlikely that the house is the pride of the neighborhood these days, but at least it’s a lot less gross than it was in late July.
The ‘Trash House’ of 13th Street [Brownstoner]