Brooklyn Heights

Group heads to court to fight sale of Brooklyn Heights Library

June 9, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A group is headed to court on Friday in an attempt to block the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library to a developer. The project includes a 36-story tower with 139 condominium units (the tallest building shown) and two retail spaces on Clinton Street.  Rendering courtesy of Marvel Architects

A Brooklyn advocacy group is headed to court on Friday in a last-ditch effort to block the sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library to a developer.

A lawsuit filed by the group Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc., headed by Brooklyn resident Marsha Rimler, will be heard by Justice Jiminez-Salta at state Supreme Court in Brooklyn in room 479 at 9:30 a.m.

After three years of controversy, the library sale was approved by the City Council in December and the Brooklyn Borough Board in March.

The branch has already begun moving books out of the building, located at 280 Cadman Plaza West. An interim library, to be located at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 95 Remsen St., will open in July, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) says. Construction is scheduled to begin this year, and will take three to four years.

The library site is being sold to developer Hudson Companies for $52 million. Hudson plans to build a 36-story luxury tower, with a new, smaller Brooklyn Heights branch on the ground floor and below ground. As part of the deal, 114 units of affordable housing will be built in Clinton Hill.

The development provoked numerous objections over concerns of overcrowded Heights schools, the shrinkage of public library space and the off-siting of the affordable housing component, but was endorsed by the Brooklyn Heights Association.

Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. bases its lawsuit primarily on the grounds that there is no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the group’s attorney, Richard Lippes, told the Brooklyn Eagle in May.

“There was a negative declaration,” he said. “The city determined there were no adverse environmental circumstances.” But the plaintiffs believe there are several adverse environmental risks, including increased traffic, air pollution and noise, he said.

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The City Council gave the project the green light in December after Councilmember Stephen Levin (Brooklyn Heights – Williamsburg – Greenpoint) worked out more perks for the community, including more floor space in a rebuilt (though smaller overall) branch, a STEM lab for students and a small DUMBO branch library.

Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc.’s petition also suggests that the current building qualifies for landmark status, noting that it was designed by noted architect Francis Keally. The reliefs around the main entrance on the Cadman Plaza West façade were designed by Clemente Spampinato, whose works are on display at Annapolis, the World Golf Hall of Fame and other venues.

Other library advocacy groups, including Citizens Defending Libraries and a group with a similar name, Love Brooklyn Libraries!, are also considering legal action.

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