New York Public Library reveals revised renovation plans, cost

Anticipated budget to overhaul flagship matches original price tag
June 02, 2014 11:20AM

A revamped renovation plan to upgrade the New York Public Library’s Flagship Site On Fifth Avenue is expected to cost about $300 million.

The projected budget matches the library’s initial estimates for a plan to add a circulating branch at its 455 Fifth Avenue locale. Officials have now for the first time revealed the details of that original plan, which was mostly ditched last month because of concerns about the price tag. According to independent estimates commissioned last June, that project would actually have cost more than $500 million.

Library officials remain hopeful that they will secure Mayor Bill de Blasio’s support. The city’s executive budget only has $150 million earmarked to finance the old plan.

One key element of the proposal, bringing the historic stacks in the main building up to code, is projected to run around $46 million — $24 million more than it would cost to put the books underground. So for the time being, the shelves will remain empty and the books will be placed in expanded storage under Bryant Park, the New York Times reported.

Work on the library is expected to revamp the building’s mechanical systems and convert unused historic rooms and offices into public spaces, the Times reported. The renovation will also double the exhibition space off Astor Hall, where historic items like a copy of the Declaration of Independence handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, with a paragraph about the slave trade edited out, will be housed.

In addition to the work on the Midtown spot, Anthony Marx, the library’s president, told the Times the library is spending $177 million to upgrade other buildings in the 88-branch system. Since 2002, the New York Public Library has spent $280 million on its other branches, Marx told the paper. [NYT]Julie Strickland