Brooklyn Heights

Buildings Dept. OKs plans for lux tower at site of Brooklyn Heights Library

December 29, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A new 36-story luxury tower at the site of the Brooklyn Heights Library edged one step closer on Tuesday with the Department of Buildings’ (DOB) approval of plans filed by Marvel Architects.

Hudson Companies is developing the project, which will include a new, smaller Brooklyn Heights branch and ground floor retail.

Marvel’s plans include 34 floors of apartments — including two penthouse floors — exercise rooms, a screening room and other amenities.

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The library is located at 280 Cadman Plaza West. Residents will enter the tower at a new address, 1 Clinton St.

Hudson filed demolition plans with the city in late October but DOB has not yet approved them, a Hudson spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday. DOB approval is needed before the current building can be taken down, though pre-demo work, including asbestos removal, is ongoing.

Hudson has not yet closed on the site, the spokesperson said.

However, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and Hudson signed a license agreement to allow asbestos abatement and some demolition work to start prior to closing. Should the project cease for any reason, Hudson is required to restore the site to the pre‐demolition state (minus the asbestos) at its own cost, the company said.

Hudson paid $52 million for the triangular plot of choice Brooklyn Heights real estate. According to the city, the sale will generate roughly $40 million towards $300 million of Brooklyn Public Library’s capital repair needs. As part of the deal, 114 units of affordable housing will be built in Clinton Hill.

The tower’s construction is scheduled to take three to four years. The building is slated to open in 2019-2020.

Worries about overcrowding in Brooklyn Heights

The library’s sale was approved by the City Council in December 2015 and the Brooklyn Borough Board in March 2016 after three years of vocal community opposition and a series of raucous ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) hearings.

Preserving the existing library had been the focus of an often-emotional crusade by several advocacy groups including Citizens Defending Libraries and Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. lost a case in court in July but has filed an appeal.

As one of a succession of new developments going up in the area, the project inflamed concerns about overcrowded Heights schools, traffic, the shrinkage of public library space and the off-siting of the affordable housing component. It was, however, unopposed by the Brooklyn Heights Association.

As deal sweeteners, the project will also include a dedicated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education lab for the local school district and a separate, small library branch in DUMBO, amenities negotiated by Councilmember Stephen Levin during the ULURP process.

Advocates have also expressed concern about the fate of the classic stone friezes on the library façade by sculptor Clemente Spampinato.

Hudson’s spokesperson told the Eagle that the company will carefully remove the reliefs and store them for the duration of the construction period. The ultimate decision for the reuse will be made by BPL. The spokesperson added that BPL is committed to making sure the reliefs are preserved either at the new branch or another location.

The branch library closed its doors in late July and has been operating out of an interim space housed in Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen St.

The Business & Career Library, which shared the building with the Brooklyn Heights branch, was moved to the Central Library in Prospect Heights, but its permanent home there won’t be ready until 2017.

When approval is received, interior demolition will last approximately four to six weeks, according to Hudson. Exterior demo will take approximately four to eight weeks.

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