Larger library and 49 units of affordable housing
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York City Council has given its final approval to the redevelopment of the Sunset Park Library.
The project would nearly double the size of the busy Sunset Park branch and create 49 units of affordable housing. The plan was developed in partnership with the nonprofit Fifth Avenue Committee.
The proposed new library will be 20,755 square feet, with 18,200 square feet expected to be accessible to the public. The current library is 12,200 square feet, with only 7,465 accessible.
Sunset Park has an urgent need for both an expanded library and affordable housing. A 2017 study by the NYC Comptroller's office found a 34 percent increase in Sunset Park’s population between 1990 and 2014. The median rent in the neighborhood has grown at a rate of 63 percent, while its median income has grown only 25 percent.
According to Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), the Sunset Park branch is one of Brooklyn’s busiest, with attendance and circulation that rank in the top 10 of BPL’s 60 branches.
BPL President and CEO Linda Johnson said in a statement that the branch would be designed and rebuilt with input from the community.
Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) said that he and Sunset Park residents have held public meetings and hearings on how to rebuild the aging library for the past two years.
“A call for an expanded and modern library that meets local needs such as affordable housing and community space was at the center of this process,” he said. “Together, we’ve worked to ensure that our residents’ recommendations were heard.”
The Fifth Avenue Committee will construct the eight-story, mixed-use building at no cost to BPL. BPL will fit out the new library for approximately $10 million. The city will own the library in perpetuity.
Most of the 49 affordable apartments will rent for $500 to $1,000 per month. A minimum of 50 percent of the apartments will be reserved for Community Board 7 residents; 10 percent will be reserved for city employees and 10 percent for the physically disabled. Nine units will be reserved for survivors of domestic violence.
While good news for Sunset Park, the redevelopment may not have been possible without the much-contested sale and redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Library.
Developer Hudson Companies plans to build a 36-story luxury tower at the Brooklyn Heights site, which will also house a new 26,620-square-foot library. As part of the project, 114 units of affordable housing will be built on Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue in Clinton Hill.
The $52 million acquisition price for the city-owned property will enable BPL to fit out the new Brooklyn Heights branch and fund $40 million of BPL’s $300 million capital repair needs. Roughly $10 million from the sale will go towards outfitting the Sunset Park Library.
Interim Sunset Park library service will be provided throughout the construction process at 4201 Fourth Avenue, at 42nd Street.
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