A controversial plan to boost the coffers of the financially-strapped Brooklyn Public Library system with the revenue from a new condo tower is moving forward. Last fall, library trustees approved the $52 million sale of the system's Brooklyn Heights branch to the Hudson Companies which planned to build a new market-rate condo tower on the coveted site. As part of the deal, the developer would also include a new library within the tower and commit to building 114 units of affordable housing off-site. The local community board has now signed-off on the plan, which sends it to the Brooklyn Borough President's office and then onto the City Planning Commission, reported the New York Times. The Hudson Companies has tapped Marvel Architects to design all aspects of the project including the condo tower, new library branch, and the two affordable housing buildings that will rise in Clinton Hill a couple of miles away. (During construction, the developer will also set up an interim library near the existing branch.) The triangular-shaped, 36-story condo tower is clad in limestone and has dark spandrels bands that cut across its skin. The new public library is housed in the building's base, facing Borough Hall and the stately court buildings across the street. On the structure's Clinton Street–facing side, there is space for a lobby, two retail outlets, and a connection to the below-grade community space. The two affordable buildings included in this project have a notably more austere presence, both with boxy brick facades and significant setbacks. The units in these buildings will be available to those making between 60 and 165 percent of the Area Median Income. Brooklyn Public Library president and CEO Linda E. Johnson told the New York Times that $40 million from the sale will go toward four other struggling branches in the borough. It's a significant figure, especially for the system which has $300 million in unmet capital needs. The project could break ground in 2016.
Posts tagged with "Brooklyn Heights":
Last August, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (BBPC) unveiled 14 proposed designs for a pair of controversial towers it planned to build near the park's southern-most pier. Under a Bloomberg-era development plan, sites along the park would be leased to private developers to finance the upkeep of Michael Van Valkenburgh's 85-acre green space. These two towers near Pier 6 represented the last piece of the development puzzle. Proposals for the two sites came from some of architecture's heavy hitters like Bjarke Ingels, Morris Adjmi, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Selldorf Architects. But now, nearly a year later, the BBPC has picked a design for the project by a firm not included in that original group: ODA Architecture. Unsurprisingly, the firm is sticking with its boxy aesthetic for its Pier 6 design. The taller of the two structures, containing 192 market-rate condos, rises to 285 feet. It features factory-style windows and triple-height cutouts punched into its facade. The smaller building tops out at 125 feet and has a mix of market-rate and affordable units, as well as a 75-seat pre-kindergarten. The height of both buildings has been lowered by 30 feet in response to public outcry over their size. Their size, though, has been just one of the controversies surrounding this development. A local group called People for Green Space sued to stop the plan after Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed to increase the percentage of affordable units within the project to 30 percent. The group argued that the inclusion of affordable housing went against the original funding scheme, and thus required an additional environmental review an amendment to the decade-old General Park Plan. People for Green Space and the BBPC settled this spring. At the time, the New York Times reported "the group was denied the environmental review, but it prevailed in its demand that the park corporation formally amend its plan." The agreement cleared the path for the project to move forward. It is being developed by RAL Development Services (RAL) and Oliver’s Realty Group. When asked why none of the original 14 designs, or architects, were selected for this project, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation told AN in an email: “The RAL/Oliver’s plan was determined to be the best proposal by the selection committee based on the strength of its financial offer, the affordable housing component, the inclusion of generous public amenities, and a design that demonstrates excellence and creativity in architecture and recognition of the surrounding context that inspires a welcoming entrance to the Park.” If the plan is approved by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors, construction would start next spring and wrap up in Fall 2017.
With the great big residential boom in Brooklyn, the typical housing stock (brownstones, apartment complexes, and the like) has grown scarce steering developers to set their sights on the properties most readily available and ripe for conversion: churches, schools, banks, hospitals, libraries, and even municipal buildings (who needs amenities or services, anyway?!). Now, two of Brooklyn’s landmarked movie theaters—The Brooklyn Heights Cinema and Park Slope’s Pavilion Theater—have been scooped up by different developers who have proposed residential conversions. The Pavilion Theater, with its Moorish brick facade and old-fashioned marquee, first opened in the early 20th century and has had several incarnations, first as the Marathon Theatre, and then as the Sanders Theatre in in 1928. The historic cinema, however, has seen better days: According to 6sqft, the interior, which does not have landmark status, is in ramshackle condition, and has been said to have had a bed bug problem in the past few years. Developer Ben Kafash, who purchased the theater three years ago, plans to revamp the building and transform it into housing. New York City firm Architecture Outfit released two schemes, perhaps in anticipation of an obligatory review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission at some future date. One proposal turns the theater into a 6-story residential apartment complex (preserving the facade), building new apartment units facing the circle, Bartel-Pritchard Square, and adjoining a row of contemporary townhouses, outfitted with protruding windows, along 14th Street. The second scheme keeps the entire theater and replaces a one-story building at 190 Prospect Park West with new construction. The one-story, white brick building, formally housing the cozy Brooklyn Heights Cinema, has been sold to local developers Madison Estates and JMH Development for $7.5 million. The theater closed its door this past August and had been in operation for over four decades, way before Lena Dunham was buying up property in the historic neighborhood. While the new owners have yet to reveal plans for the modest structure, the Daily News said it is likely to be converted into a low-rise condo or condo building. If Brooklyn Heights residents want to see a movie, they will just have to mosey on down to DUMBO where the two-screen movie theater is moving to.
HNTB's Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge connecting the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with Brooklyn Bridge Park opened to the public last Thursday. The $4.9 million bridge was built using "trail bridge technology" with galvanized steel cables and cylindrical black locust timbers, providing an efficient and lightweight structure that, as a sign at the entrance to the bridge warns, quite literally puts a bounce in visitors' steps. "The bridge is very light weight. You will feel yourself walking across the bridge," HNTB's Chief Engineer Ted Zoli said at a construction tour in December. On AN's visit to the bridge Friday morning, traversing the spans did in fact provide a bouncy effect. The 400-foot-long Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge zig-zags through Brooklyn Bridge Park, moving through what will one day be a mixed-use development on the park's edge designed by Rogers Marvel Architects and providing a crucial connection to the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood which sits largely cut off from the waterfront by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Concrete piers support the main bridge spans across Furman Street and through the park, which gently decline from a height of 50 feet to the waterfront park. LED lights are incorporated into the handrails that will wash the pathway with light in the evening.
It looks like South Brooklyn will have plenty of new condos, but perhaps a dearth of services. This morning, the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) voted unanimously to close Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill. According to DNAinfo, Downstate Medical Center president Dr. John Williams told the board that the hospital “was losing money and draining the entire Downstate system.” Protests ensued at the public hearing from doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. The 200,000-square-foot campus could have a price tag of up to $500 million. This news comes on the heels of an announcement from Brooklyn Public Library officials that they plan to sell the Brooklyn Heights branch to a developer. The over-extended library is in need of $9 million to renovate the building. According to the Brooklyn Paper, the BPL is hoping a private developer will purchase the 25,000-square-foot property and build a residential building that also houses the library on the ground floor. A number of community members expressed their disapproval at the meeting. Luckily for interested developers, both LICH and the Brooklyn Heights branch are already zoned for residential. These pending sales, however, are part of a larger trend that is sweeping the city, and making headlines this week—cash-strapped city agencies and institutions are increasingly stressed and looking to relieve their financial woes by selling off properties to private developers.
Before the end of this year, the Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge will be completed connecting Brooklyn Heights with the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the waterfront. This windy path over the BQE and through the treetops will quite literally bridge the divide and substantial grade shift between the neighborhood and the park. Construction of this $4.9 million pedestrian bridge, made of black locust timber and galvanized steel, is already underway, and on December 14th and 15th, the spans will be hoisted into place over Furman Street. HNTB's chief engineer Ted Zoli chose materials that were consistent with the landscape design of Brooklyn Bridge Park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. “The bridge is very light weight. You will feel yourself walking across the bridge,” Zoli said at a hard hat tour of Squibb Pedestrian Bridge at Brooklyn Park this afternoon. While the pedestrian bridge represents a contemporary solution, it is also a throwback to a pre-Robert Moses era when there was direct access to the water before the highway was built. “It is like a gangway,” said Zoli. “It is like how you used to walk to vessels on the water.”