Bookworms in Red Hook will be without their local book repository for two years, as the neighborhood’s Brooklyn Public Library branch will shut its doors next month to undergo a long-awaited $17.5 million facelift.
After suffering $750,000 in storm damage during Hurricane Sandy, the reading hub has been eager to turn a new page and make the premises more flood resistant and spacious.
The Brooklyn Public Library first put forward their renovation plans for the branch back in 2014, which included a plan to lease a portion of the branch for rehearsal studios for performance artists.
This aspect of the redesign was ultimately shelved in response to the concerns raised by the local community about loss of space.
After continued community engagement, a redesign with a price-tag of $15 million was unveiled in 2019 — but efforts to get the project underway were hobbled by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Construction on the Wolcott Street facility is now slated to start March 17, and last into early 2025.
For bookworms concerned about accessing shelves over the two-year closure, Red Hook Library said it is making plans to minimize disruption.
Book bigwigs will hold a meeting at the Red Hook branch on Tuesday, February 21 at 6 pm, during which patrons can have their say on what programs ought to be prioritized during the closure.
Architects with the Manhattan-based firm Levenbetts will also be presenting their updated project design that will help the branch meet the city’s flood code and replace its mechanical systems with an overhaul of the interior and exterior of the building.
The city’s quasi-private business-boosting arm, the Economic Development Corporation, is managing the project with funds coming from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and from Council District 38’s Participatory Budget process.
And while updated designs have yet to be released, the library’s website states that renovations will see all mechanical and electrical equipment will be placed on the library’s roof, flood resistant walls and windows will create a ‘flood wall’ of 3.5 feet around the building and the exterior will feature permeable landscaping and garden bioswale designed to slow down rainwater.
Inside, officials said there would be a 14% increase in public space featuring brand new furniture and upgraded technology, including laptop loans.
The upgraded interior of the branch will also include a dedicated space for teens, a children’s room for storytimes and programs along with two meeting rooms.
Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.
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