Brooklyn Heights

Developer Hudson closes on Brooklyn Heights Library site and $280M loan

June 19, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hudson Companies has closed on the acquisition of the site of the former Brooklyn Heights Library and also on a $280 million loan for a planned 36-story luxury tower, seen center right, on the site of the former Brooklyn Heights Library. Rendering courtesy of Marvel Architects

The redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Library site has taken a major step forward with The Hudson Companies’ announcement that it has closed on the $52-million acquisition of the city-owned property.

Hudson has also closed on a $280-million first mortgage loan, the company said on Monday.

Starwood Property Trust, Inc. and Related Fund Management co-originated the loan, with Starwood Property Trust providing $200 million in financing and Related Fund Management providing the remainder. 

The $470 million, 36-story project at 280 Cadman Plaza West, designed by Marvel Architects, will include a new 26,620-square-foot library, 134 market-rate condominium units, and a 9,000-square-foot STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab operated by the NYC Department of Education. The condos will include a mix of one- to five-bedroom units and underground parking.

While the new library will be smaller than the current one, the city says its functional area will be increased.

The site will also house two retail spaces on Clinton Street: one to be leased by Brooklyn Roasting Company and the other to feature rotating pop-up food vendors curated by Smorgasburg.

As part of the deal, Hudson will build 114 units of permanently affordable housing on two privately owned sites in Clinton Hill.

Demolition of the former library branch, already underway, is expected to be finished in the next 50 days, according to Hudson. Demolition must be completed before Hudson can pull a new building permit, which will allow it to begin construction. The project is expected to break ground this summer and be completed in 2020. 

The deal, which was fought by community activists and library supporters, was hailed by Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President and CEO Linda E. Johnson, who said in a statement that the sale of the site will enable BPL to fit out the new Brooklyn Heights branch and fund roughly $40 million of BPL’s capital repair needs, estimated to be $300 million 

Hudson President David Kramer said in a statement, “Today’s closing marks a critical step toward a new state-of-the-art library branch and STEM lab, much-needed market-rate and affordable housing, neighborhood retail, and essential capital funding that will have a direct impact on libraries across Brooklyn.

 

Worries about Environment, Shrinkage of Public Library Space

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 opposition by advocacy groups including Citizens Defending Libraries and Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. and a series of raucous ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) hearings.

As one of a succession of new developments going up in the area, the project inflamed concerns about overcrowded local schools, increased 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.

Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc., headed by Brooklyn resident Marsha Rimler, is proceeding with a legal challenge to the development, Rimler said last month.

The classic stone friezes on the front of the library facade, by sculptor Clemente Spampinato, have been removed. Hudson’s spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle in December that the company will store them for the duration of the construction period. The spokesperson added that BPL is committed to making sure the reliefs are preserved either at the new branch or another location, though the ultimate decision for the reuse will be made by BPL.

For the duration of the construction project, an interim library is operating out of Our Lady of Lebanon Church at 109 Remsen St.