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Brooklyn Heights library tower set to rise with DOB approval

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They’ve got approval to build, but they’re still waiting on approval to demolish

Marvel Architects

The Department of Buildings has approved Marvel Architects’s plans for the new 36-story luxury tower going in at the site of the Brooklyn Heights Library, bringing the contentious project one step closer to completion, reports the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Tentatively slated for completion in 2019 or 2020, the plan will transform the existing library building at 280 Cadman Plaza West into an upscale condo tower (with an address of 1 Clinton Street) with 34 stories of apartments and a newer, smaller library at base, along with ground floor retail.

The DOB approval comes after a tumultuous year for the project. Though many residents vocally opposed it from the start, the controversy reached a head this summer, when Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. (an unaffiliated offshoot of other anti-library sale group Love Brooklyn Libraries!) filed a suit against developer Hudson Companies, attempting to stop the sale and redevelopment of the site, citing concerns about additional traffic and noise, among other issues. The suit, however, was dismissed in July, allowing Hudson to move forward with their residential plans for the site. (An appeal has been filed.)

But while the project now has the DOB’s approval to build, it’s not all smooth sailing yet: the developers are still waiting for the DOB to approve their demolition plans for the site, filed back in October, a Hudson spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle. And while pre-demo work has already begun—asbestos removal, for example, is underway—Hudson can’t actually take down the existing building until they get the official nod.

Hudson also has not yet officially closed on the site, the spokesperson said. In order to start the pre-demo work now, Hudson signed an interim deal with the Brooklyn Public Library, promising that if the project were to fall apart for any reason, the developers would have to restore the site to its pre-demolition state at their own cost. Once they get DOB approval, interior demolition is expected to last four to six weeks, while exterior demo should take somewhere between four and eight.

In addition to generating $40 million of the $300 million the BPL’s capital repair needs, the project will bring 114 units of off-site affordable housing to Clinton Hill, as dictated by the terms of the deal. The project will also include a dedicated STEM education lab for the local school district and a separate, small BPL branch in DUMBO.

As for the fate of the classic stone friezes on the existing library facade, another concern of community advocates? Hudson’s spokesperson assured the Eagle that the developers will “carefully remove the reliefs and store them for the duration of the construction period,” though their ultimate fate will be up to BPL.