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NYPL’s Mid-Manhattan branch renovation may be held up by neighboring condo

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The condo at 445 Fifth Avenue is trying to coerce a $15,000/month fee out of the library during its renovation

The 30-month renovation of the New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan branch may be held up by a neighboring condo, where residents are demanding the nonprofit pony up $15,000 per month during construction—or $450,000 over the renovation timeline. For what? An inconvenience fee, it seems.

The condo board of 445 Fifth Avenue is trying to coerce payment out of the nonprofit by refusing construction workers access to the site to hang safety equipment, a step required by law before the $200 million renovation can begin, a lawsuit filed by the library and cited by the Post charges.

Beyond being contemptible that a condo where apartments are priced well into the millions is trying to impose a fee on an institution that serves all New Yorkers, the board is also attempting to limit the project’s work hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, even though city code allows for more.

A rooftop terrace is coming to the Mid-Manhattan branch.
Courtesy Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle

The library isn’t having it. In the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, the nonprofit skewers the condo, saying the “imposition of a license fee is unjustified, not only because it is not required by the law, but because the fee would be required to be paid by a not-for-profit organization whose core mission and purpose is to provide books, education resources and programs for the people of New York City.”

Construction on the Mid-Manhattan Branch at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street is expected to start next month.

The library opened a temporary circulating space for the Mid-Manhattan branch within its Stephen A. Schwarzman building, just north at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, this morning. The 25,000-square-foot temporary branch contains the Mid-Manhattan branch’s circulating collections, and provide computers and quiet study areas for patrons. The Mid-Manhattan branch is expected to reopen in 2020.

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