The construction streak of the past few years may be delivering much-needed apartments to a supply challenged city, but some neighborhoods are now on edge.
New buildings around the city are coming under fire for their scale, as residents complain about what these new structures bring: looming shadows, blocked views, new commuters for already overcrowded subways and the loss of longtime landmarks. And, critics add, a single project can be responsible for multiple slights.
One of the latest projects to be touched by controversy is One Clinton, a 134-unit condo in Brooklyn Heights that will start sales this month.
Opponents say that the project, from the Hudson Companies, has done something deeply offensive: bulldoze a library, and a popular one at that, to make way for luxury housing.
“The developer is coming to clearly enrich himself at the expense of the public,” said Michael D. D. White, a co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries, a group formed in 2013 after city officials announced plans to redevelop the site, which is on Cadman Plaza West at Clinton Street, near Brooklyn Borough Hall.
“Memories are not going to go away,” added Mr. White, who over the years has organized protests near the former library, which was built in 1962, and plans to stage another with the opening of the condo’s sales office.
Other detractors include Love Brooklyn Libraries, a nonprofit that tried to halt the project with a 2016 suit that claimed the condo would negatively change “community character.” Though a judge ruled against the nonprofit the same year, Love Brooklyn Libraries has appealed the decision and is awaiting a court date.
But condemnation of the project is far from universal. Indeed, local supporters include both Brooklyn Community Board Two and the Brooklyn Heights Association, an advocacy group that has railed against other residential towers.
“We’ve taken a very close look at this project from day one,” said Peter Bray, the executive director of the association, which backs One Clinton for “a number of reasons.”
Chief among them, he said, is that the condo will replace the razed library with a new facility, a nearly 27,000-square-foot offering that will open in 2020 “with a much more efficient layout.”
Renderings of the new library reveal sleek and stylish rooms. But Mr. White said the new library would be a pale substitute for the old version, in part because it’s so much smaller than the former library, which measured 59,000 square feet. Many rooms in the new library will also be underground, another unwelcome change, Mr. White added.
Hudson argues though that the original library building should be considered only about 35,000 square feet, based on areas that were actually accessible to the public. (The rest of the space was used for storage and mechanicals.) The reduction in size, by extension, then, is less severe.
Hudson’s plan, which beat out 13 other bids, has other things going for it, supporters say. For one, the company is simultaneously also developing 114 units of affordable housing in two buildings in Clinton Hill, a few neighborhoods to the east. Though these below-market-rate apartments will not be under the same roof at One Clinton, as some had hoped, they will be completed before One Clinton opens.
More About the Neighborhood
Also appealing, Mr. Bray said, is that the Brooklyn Public Library has vowed to spend $40 million of the $52 million that Hudson paid for the site to upgrade about a half dozen other libraries, as well as build a new library in Dumbo.
To serve patrons while One Clinton is under construction, Hudson also created a small temporary library in a church on Remsen Street, which on a recent afternoon was packed with people perched over laptops.
While tensions simmer over the library issue, Hudson is moving ahead with a building that is unlike others in Brooklyn Heights, most of which is in a historic district, New York’s first.
It’s also a relatively low-slung area, meaning One Clinton, at 36 stories, offers sweeping views from its one- to five-bedroom units, which have nearly 10-foot ceilings, airy floor plans and picture windows. A flatiron design, courtesy of a wedge-shaped parcel, also sets it apart.
The developers also had to angle some of its apartments to face away from the mostly-blank brick wall of next-door One Pierrepont Plaza, a 21-story 1980s office building that was once among the tallest high-rises in Brooklyn.
At One Clinton, kitchens will have white-oak cabinets and six-burner Bertazzoni ranges, while master baths will feature marble floors in chevron patterns. For amenities, the doorman building will have a gym, children’s playroom and a landscaped terrace with grills.
Retail berths at the building, designed by Marvel Architects, will include an outpost of the Brooklyn Roasting Company, a coffee chain, and a space for vendors from Smorgasburg, the food market.
Prices for now are tentative, as the state has not yet approved the offering plan. But one-bedrooms are expected to start at about $1.1 million and two-bedrooms at $2 million, with an average price per square foot of $2,000.
At that rate, the project seems pricey for Brooklyn. The average price for new condos in the borough in the second quarter was $1,086 per square foot, according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate, down from $1,173 per square foot in the previous quarter.
David Kramer, a Hudson principal, acknowledged that a project of One Clinton’s size, on a formerly public site, was bound to create some controversy. But ultimately, he said, the aggravation would be worth it, for both the public and purchasers.
The address is close to subways, restaurants and shops, unlike many current projects on the borough’s waterfront: “We saw this as the best location in Brooklyn for a new project,” Mr. Kramer said