The City Planning Commission voted unanimously to build a 36-story luxury residential tower on the lot where a 60,000 square foot branch of the Brooklyn Public Library stands today. The move was also approved by the District 2 Community Board and endorsed by the Brooklyn Heights Association.
Cadman Plaza West branch of the BPL will make way for a high-rise building which will house a new, smaller, 21,500 square-foot library, 139 market-rate condos, and two retail spaces on the ground floor. The BPL will get compensated for its property with $52 million. Part of the deal includes 114 affordable housing units offsite; one will be at Fulton Street and the second on Atlantic Avenue in Clinton Hill.
There are voices objecting to the plan. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle stated that
“the planned development has provoked a chorus of impassioned objections over concerns of overcrowded [Brooklyn] Heights schools, the shrinkage of library space and the off-siting of the affordable housing component.”
Co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries Michael D.D. White is unhappy with the way the vote went. The pro-labor group Build Up NYC was also dissatisfied with the Board’s decision. The BPL was happy, however, calling the project a “win-win.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio gushed with enthusiasm at the ceremony marking the opening of the Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. The ribbon-cutting took place on Thursday, October 6, and was truly a moving moment in history for all present.
The Brooklyn College graduate film school is the first publicly funded film school to open in New York. It is also the only film school in the entire country to be located on an actual working film and TV studio, the 20-acre Steiner Studios, said to be the largest such studio not found in Hollywood.
The opening of Brooklyn College’s newest campus, which is in the Brooklyn Navy Yard inspired Mayor de Blasio to express is excitement at the prospect and potential of this new endeavor:
“Now, we are one of the great capitals of film and television in this country and on this earth. And we got that way by continuing to innovate. We got that way by never sitting still. And the extraordinary fact is there is more film and TV activity now in this city than ever before. We once were strong for a period of time. Somehow, some of the folks who make the films and television shows wanted to go elsewhere, and then we were rediscovered with a vengeance. And now, rightfully, people want to be here, because the talent is here; more and more, the great studio capacity is here; the stories are here; the scenes are here; it’s more and more of the place that makes sense for the industry. So now, over $7 billion dollars being spent annually in the film and TV industry. $7 billion dollars — you can clap for that.”
Seven years have passed without a decision about what to do with 538 Washington Avenue; but now we can look forward to a nice building on this lot.
Between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street, the building will house ten condos and will be called Aperture 538, perhaps due to the small windows and perforated screens in the design.
Sam Boymelgreen is the developer, and Luca Andrisani is the designer. Andrisani also designed a building which is described as “an abstract expression of the Brooklyn Bridge” on its web site, so we can expect equally inspired things from this new project.
The ten apartments will be a combination of studios and two to three bedroom apartments. Some apartments will come with home offices and/or private outdoor space. The kitchens will be equipped with high-end appliances from Liebherr, Sharp, and Bosch.
The Department of Outreach Services of the Brooklyn Public Library is embarking on an ambitious project which will “explore the Brooklyn that is and the Brooklyn that was, from the words of the community that lives here,” said Emma Clark of the BPL.
“The goal of the project is to create neighborhood-specific history archives based around interviews with Brooklyn residents, in order to record and preserve the history of our changing neighborhoods before it is forgotten,” said Clark. “As a public library, we are uniquely positioned to not only witness the change taking place all around us, but also to record and preserve the history of our neighborhoods before that history is forgotten.”
Essential to the success of the project are the older people of the neighborhood. Seniors are the main repositories of our past, and the project is seeking out their help. Others well acquainted with the neighborhood, such as those who have done extensive work in the area, are also encouraged to contact Clark at EClark@bklynlibrary.org.
The outcome of the project will be spoken stories recorded and place online and scanned photos of the people and places in the neighborhood.
“We want to know what makes Clinton Hill unique, and record the perspectives and memories of the people that live and work here in order to illuminate the changes in the neighborhood in a specific and personal fashion,” Clark added.
“This is not a commercial enterprise in any fashion, rather it is an outreach initiative of the public library designed to connect neighborhood residents with their local history and to facilitate conversations about the changing face of the neighborhood.”
Hooligans have started back up using Orthodox Jews as targets for paintball attacks in Williamsburg after a lull in similar attacks since last March.
About one week ago at about 1:45am on Monday a car drove past the Bondo’s 24 supermarket on Lee Avenue and Rodney Street, shooting a paintball at two Orthodox Jewish men sitting outside. The paint canister missed the men, but instead made a dent in the store’s awning. Several minutes later about 7 blocks away on Lee and Rutledge, this time the paintball found its target and hit another Jewish man, covering him with neon paint.
A policeman was quoted as saying: “We have the same kind of assault, in the same neighborhood, on the same race of people, and we have some evidence that makes us believe there is someone targeting Jews.”
Another similar incident happened this week. According to CBS a man and his grandchildren were shot at and hit with a green paintball as they were leaving their local synagogue.
Rabbi Moshe Indig, a Brooklyn community leader commented:
“It’s unfortunate that in 2015, this is still happening.”
There is a $2,500 reward being offered by the police to anyone who gives them information that leads to the arrest of the paintball thug or thugs. If you know anything please call Crime Stoppers at (800)577-TIPS (8477) or the area detectives at 718-963-5368.
At the end of last month the Clinton Hill branch of the Brooklyn Public Library celebrated its nomination as one of the ten finalists in the NYC Neighborhood Library Awards. To recognize the contribution of the library to the neighborhood, City Council-member Laurie A Cumbo came to the library on May 19 to join the staff and residents to beautify the building and its surroundings. Mirroring a similar planting that took place last fall, there was also a planting and children’s arts and craft program.
“Our neighborhood libraries serve as a gateway for millions of readers to travel across the globe and throughout history without ever leaving their seats,” said Cumbo. “The Clinton Hill branch has been an outstanding resource for area residents by providing critical programs and services that promote literacy, learning and community. I applaud the librarians, staff and patrons whose dedication has made this branch an invaluable part of our lives and a shining example of excellence.”
The Brooklyn Public Library has been requesting that the city invest more of its budget in essential community institutions like the BPL, as well as its partners in Queens and Manhattan. The three library systems together created the Invest in Libraries campaign, through which they are urging NYC to invest $65 million in the restoration of operating expenses for this year.
“Brooklynites rely on our 60 branches for helpful, free programs like resume-writing workshops, English-language classes and after-school programs for children of all ages,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson. “As the staff, volunteers and patrons of BPL’s Clinton Hill branch celebrate its well-deserved Neighborhood Library Award nomination, we urge the city to restore a sufficient level of funding to New York’s libraries.”
According to property records filed with New York City today, a group of four apartment buildings in Clinton Hill were purchased for $38 million. The buyer of the properties is called Coastline Apartment Investors. The sellers of the buildings are Yechiel Weinberger and Bernard Miller.
Together the portfolio has 129 units within more than 123,000 square feet and varies from 4 to 6 stories high. The properties are located at 29 Putnam Avenue, sold for $6.5 million; 90 Downing Street, went for $11.5 million; 425 and 435 Grand Avenue both gone for $10 million per building.
One year ago the partners sold a property in Crown Heights for $25 million to an Australian real estate investment trust, Dixon Advisory. That group of buildings had 124 units.