New York Public Library shelves plans to renovate flagship site

Trustees say costs and public opposition led to reversal

New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street

The New York Public Library canceled plans to renovate its main branch at 42nd Street. The city had pledged $150 million to the project, which will now solely involve the rehabbing of the Mid-Manhattan building at 455 Fifth Avenue Near 40th Street.

Library trustees plan to keep the Mid-Manhattan branch open during the renovation, rolling out changes in stages. The trustees said the $150 million will go toward other purposes.

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Under the original Central Library plan, book stacks under the main reading room were to be removed. But a study found that the 42nd Street building renovation costs would be higher than projected. Initially it was set to cost $300 million. The project has also been hit with four lawsuits. But the project received approval from the city environmental review and the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, as previously reported.

“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Tony Marx, president of the library, told the New York Times. [NYT]Mark Maurer