Library and Condo Clash Brooklyn Heights Development Will Shake Up Local Library Branches

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Look around any busy subway car, or row of park benches on a balmy day, and you'll see New Yorkers of all stripes reading all kinds of media; novels, nonfiction, news, you name it. This is a city that appreciates literature. It's also a city that appreciates luxury residential real estate -- and sometimes, those two passions butt heads. 

As of September, sales have begun at One Clinton, a 36-story, 134-unit condo tower in Brooklyn Heights, currently under construction on the former site of a popular Brooklyn Public Library branch location. The developer, Hudson Companies, agreed to allocate much of the property's first three floors for a new library branch. Some of the proceeds from the overall library redevelopment project will also go toward the construction of a 6,500-square-foot ground-floor library in DUMBO -- the 60th branch in the borough.

The actual units at One Clinton will range from one- to five-bedrooms, with high ceilings and picture windows. Amenities will include a children’s playroom, gym, and terrace. The project was designed by Marvel Architects, and will feature ground-floor retail including a Brooklyn Roasting Company and space for various Smorgasburg-affiliated vendors, as well as a 9,000-square-foot STEM classroom for local School District 13.

Yet despite Hudson Companies’ and the Brooklyn Public Library system’s attempts to placate Brooklyn Heights residents with alternative book-borrowing options--among a myriad other essential public services that libraries generally provide--not everyone is satisfied.

Speaking to the New York Times in September, Michael D. D. White, a co-founder of the group Citizens Defending Libraries, said that “the developer is coming to clearly enrich [itself] at the expense of the public” and “memories are not going to go away,” an acknowledgement of the impact this particular branch has had on the neighborhood since its construction in 1962.

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