The Real Deal New York

City could seize Brooklyn library to save on rent

Arizona bank charges NYC $250,000 annually to lease the building
March 10, 2014 04:45PM

The city could soon seize a privately-owned Brooklyn library via eminent domain.

The McKinley Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at 6802 Fort Hamilton Parkway on the corner of 68th Street leases the space from a BMO Harris Bank branch in Arizona, and pays $20,000 per month in rent — a rate the library’s executive president says it cannot afford.

Library officials told the Brooklyn Paper that they have skipped more than $5 million in needed repairs to the building in order to pay rent, the Brooklyn Paper reported. The bank recently turned down the library’s offer to buy the building for $2.4 million, prompting the library’s lobbying for the city to kickstart the eminent domain process.

Should the city seize the property, the library would stay on as a rent-free tenant, enabling it to complete for all maintenance repairs, including window replacement and plumbing and roof work. The city will conduct hearings on the matter next month.

The library leases six other branches and is planning to acquire all of them, the library’s vice president David Woloch told the Brooklyn Paper. [BrooklynPaper] Angela Hunt

  • is there an ombudsman ever?

    HOLY JESUS – what person signed off on the lease? 20k for Brooklyn before gentrification??

  • what about post offices?

    Seriously? Eminent Domain?

    LOL – is that really what eminent domain is for? To evade paying rent or to avoid negotiating rent – just lowball them or move to a cheaper space with a grateful landlord.

    eminent domain … ha!

    That is hilarious (until it happens to you).

  • jake

    kick backs for sureeee

  • holy crap that is scary

    Don’t they need to build up? Why didn’t the library just find a cheaper space nearby? I know one Queens branch that just moved out – it didn’t try to take the building from the property owner or anything. And the library exec is totally wrong when he says that he doesn’t think that this will affect their attractiveness to future landlords.

  • Public libraries an antiquated institutions and should be cut from the city budget.

    Perhaps libraries made sense in the early twentieth-century when they provided books on loan to poor and middle-class folks to whom hardcover-bound books were unaffordable luxuries. But as soon as paperbacks made books affordable to the mass-public, this rationale started to strain.

    So libraries expanded their mission to include cultural materials and began lending out other resources- newspapers, vinyl records, VHS cassettes, music CDs and DVD movies- all arguably outside the narrow scope of providing the general public with access to educational materials. IMO it was gross mismanagement of public resources for NYPL to compete with Blockbuster and Tower Records to subsidize peoples access to entertainment.

    In the internet age, there is no reason why we ought to perpetuate this institution, the vast real estate they occupy, the rents and employee salaries, etc. It would be cheaper for the city to subsidize a Kindle for each citizen and let them purchase ebooks, magazines, music and movies for a couple of dollars which is easily affordable to all except for a very small minority, and would give them access to thousands of free classic books that are already in the public domain.

    My friends, it’s time we ended the NYPL system.

  • Blame Canada

    The property is owned by Bank of Montreal.

  • Adam

    They tried to buy the building from the company for 2.4 million dollars to try and save on having to pay rent as well. The company said no only because of the amount of money they are making a year on the rent. I’d say Eminent Domain is the Libraries last choice to not have to close down all together. The company should accept the purchase offer and put that money into a better investment.
    Thinking about it again in a different way. With the internet and information being easy to get by just going online. Perhaps closing down all but one main library would be the best thing to do to save on the budget.

  • 2.4 seems low

    Meanwhile, a private buyer paid 3 million for this:

    so it doesn’t seem like 2.4 was such a great deal. Maybe they can get a developer to build really high and let the city keep the library space but have the developer pay the owner fairer market than 2.4.