October 18, 2016
Maybe you can live in a public library?
by Chad Felix
Last week we wrote about the secret (and kind of spooky) history of apartments located within the walls of various branches of the New York Public Library. Based on what we learned—that the NYPL’s thirteen remaining branch-residences are in the process of being converted into recreational and programming spaces—it seemed safe to assume that the dream of making a house a home, haunted or otherwise, in the fortress of goodness known as the public library was nigh impossible now, in the twenty-first century.
Well, our collective assumption was wrong, people — for joy!
At Curbed New York, Rachel Sugar reports that the Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, as part of a larger plan to expand the library to 21,000 square feet and multiple floors, is planning to offer forty-nine affordable apartments for “a range of low-income tenants, including those who qualify for federal housing assistance” right on top of it, with rent ranging from $532 per month for some studios to $1,272 for the priciest three-bedrooms.
Yearly income requirements for the building will start at $22,500 for a single person and go up to $86,967 for a family of four. Half the units are designated for current residents of Community Board 7, while nine are set aside for victims of domestic violence who’ve been living in shelters, the Paper reports. Eight of the units will be accessible, and another eight will accept Section 8 vouchers.
Rents for 39 of the units will range from $532 (for the cheapest studios) to $1,272 (for the priciest three-bedrooms). It’s not yet clear what the plans are for the remaining 10 units, which are marked for higher-earning tenants who are still technically low-income, but they’ll be below market rate. All the units will be available via the city’s affordable housing lottery.
Okay, maybe not as romantic as the creepy abodes of the noble craftspeople known as library custodians—with their mysterious liquids, defunct shafts to nowhere, and probably haunted ephemera—but still pretty damn cool. We’re in early days here—the project still needs to go through a public review process and City Council—so keep your eyes on this space for updates. And dream, dream on!
Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.