Preservation Issues

Controversial Library Sale May Spark More

-Brooklyn Heights Library

-Brooklyn Heights Library Bas Reliefs

-Rendering of thirty-six story condo

-Pacific Street Library in Boerum Hill

December 2015

The City Council voted to approve the controversial sale of the beautiful, mid-century Brooklyn Heights Public Library to a private developer on December 16. Councilmember Steve Levin, who represents the district where the Library is located, agreed to the sale.

The Library will be demolished and a thirty-six story condo will go up in its place. A shrunken version of the library will be housed in the ground floor and cellar spaces, along with the condo’s lobby, mechanical rooms and service dock. The Brooklyn Heights Branch was the second largest in the borough, after the main library on Grand Army Plaza.

Brooklyn Public Library Chief Executive Linda Johnson stated that this one-shot revenue raiser was a model for other New York City public libraries. Funding and maintaining neighborhood libraries was once a proud tradition of City Government. Now the sale of public assets is, according to Ms. Johnson, “the turning point for the library system” and a “pioneering effort” in the future of libraries.

The Conservancy has long advocated for the restoration of the City’s historic and well-loved branch libraries. The historic Pacific Street branch in Boerum Hill seems to be spared, at least for the moment. Neither the Pacific Branch nor the Brooklyn Heights Branch has landmark protection.

The private group “Citizens Defending Libraries” has called for an investigation of the details of the sale and how much of the proceeds will be used to assist other branches.

Click here to read a letter that the Conservancy sent to Councilman Levin prior to the vote and a public statement released by Citizens Defending Libraries.