Real estate developer Hudson Inc., in collaboration with Marvel Architects, has been entrenched in a battle with Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 over their purchase of the Brooklyn Heights Library Branch. The developer has plans to level the existing library, and then to build luxury residential units in its place. Although Hudson Inc. intends to provide affordable housing at an offsite location still within CB2 borders, many local residents aren’t happy about the $52 million purchase of their library branch, which they see as a victory for corporate real estate at the expense of an important educational and community institution.
Many residents voiced discontent at the last CB2 hearing, which was attended by various community members, local activists and members of the Board’s Land-Use Committee, and took place at NYU’s Dibner Auditorium in Downtown Brooklyn last month. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle was there, and caught some of the heated exchanges between public officials, angry citizens and executives like Brooklyn Public Library CEO Linda Johnson, who laid bare the BPL’s rationale for selling the library out for demolition.
Johnson tried to placate some of the tense feelings by mentioning that “the library is not in the real estate business,” but to little avail. She did reason however, that the $52 million sale will enable the BPL to fund a new, 21,500 square-foot Brooklyn Heights Branch underneath the new tower, in addition to subsidizing operating costs for different BPL branches including the Walt Whitman branch, Pacific Branch, the Sunset Park branch and the Washington Irving branch, according to the Eagle.
Hudson Inc. currently has five projects underway in Brooklyn, three of which will house low-income residents. Tonight’s hearing, which will take place at St. Francis College’s Founders Hall at 6:30, promises to tackle more of the environmental and economic costs going toward the 36-story, 139 unit residential tower. CB2’s Land-Use committee will again attempt to reach an affirmative vote on the issue.
Although Brooklyn Heights residents are clamoring for their historic library, BPL CEO Linda Johnson conceded to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that their particular branch was in dire straights, and needed at least $9 million to fund repairs.
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