Adams backs Sunset Park Library proposal, but has changes in mind
Borough president calls for revised floor plans
Borough President Eric Adams has come out in support of a controversial proposal to tear down the Sunset Park Library and build an eight-story apartment complex at the site, but he also called for significant changes in the floor plans for the project.
Adams, who spoke out on the issue as part of his duties as borough president under the city’s Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), issued his recommendations on Dec. 29 in anticipation of a Jan. 3 meeting of the City Planning Commission (CPC).
The Fifth Avenue Committee, the group that is working in partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), plans to demolish the library at 5108 Fourth Ave. and replace it with a building that would contain a new library and apartments on the floors above.
Adams asked the Fifth Avenue Committee and the BPL to revise the floor plans to make the library space more contiguous.
Applications have been submitted by the BPL, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for an HPD-selected developer to construct an eight-story mixed-use building at the library site with approximately 50 units of affordable housing and an expanded library space.
Curbed NY reported that the plan is controversial because the city is seeking to sell land it owns to get the new structure built.
Community Board Seven, which represents Sunset Park, voted to recommend approval of the library redevelopment plan in November.
Adams’ recommendations came after months of dialogue with local stakeholders and community activists and in the wake of a public hearing he held in Borough Hall on Nov. 14.
“My recommendations for the future of the Sunset Park Branch, which have been guided by the hundreds of Brooklynites whose feedback I have considered in recent weeks, are a blueprint for responsible community development that puts our children and families first,” Adams said in a statement.
Pertaining to the redesigned space of the Sunset Park Library, Adams expressed concern that the proposed layout might inhibit the potential for desired library programming, so he asked the Fifth Avenue Committee to revise the floor plans.
He also called for BPL to pursue efforts to expand the library space that will be utilized on an interim basis during the construction. His recommendations included the sharing of Community Board Seven’s meeting space during hours in which the room is not scheduled for business, as well as the deployment of digital vans.
The Sunset Park Library, built through the efforts of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, opened in 1905. The original two-story building was torn down in 1970 and rebuilt in 1972.
A new library is needed, according to BPL officials.
“At 12,200 square feet (7,500 square feet publicly accessible), the current branch is too small and too badly outdated to meet the needs of the patrons who depend on its collections and services. Sunset Park Library requires over $6 million in repairs just to maintain the library at its current size. The branch’s air conditioner is broken and has been replaced by loud portable chillers that do a poor job of cooling the branch on hot days,” a statement on the BPL website reads.
On the housing component, Adam said it was important for all of the units to remain permanently affordable, regardless of participation in the city’s Voluntary Inclusionary Housing (VIH) program, and he asked for such an agreement to be codified in either the Regulatory Agreement or Land Disposition Agreement for the project.
Rents for 39 of the apartments will start at $532 a month for a studio and $1,272 a month for a three-bedroom, according to Curbed NY. The other apartments will go to higher-earning tenants who are still classified as low-income New Yorkers. The apartments will be available through the city’s affordable housing lottery.
Half of the apartments will be set aside for residents who live within the boundaries of Community Board Seven and nine will be set aside for victims of domestic violence who are currently living in shelters, Curbed NY reported.
In his recommendations, Adams also emphasized a larger plan he had previously put forth to address the funding challenges facing city libraries.
Adams renewed his request for the de Blasio administration to incorporate public libraries into the city’s agency structure, a move that would include converting BPL into an independent agency.
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