Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

NYC Libraries Are Being Sold For Huge Losses And For Minuscule Fractions of Their Value

People ask whether the public is at least getting good deals or "value" when we sell our libraries.  We absolutely are not.  We are selling our libraries for far less than their worth and far less than we have invested in them.  The losses are actually profoundly embarrassing notwithstanding the proclivity of library officials to deceptively characterize proceeds from sales as "profits," and as "hefty" rather than "paltry."  That's been true since the beginning. . .

. . .  The first library sold, the Donnell Library, the central destination, 97,000-square foot, five-story central destination library on what was documented to be the most valuable block in Manhattan at the time, was sold to net the NYPL less than $25,000 million.  The penthouse in the luxury tower that replaced it in the 50-story luxury tower replacing Donnell went on the market for $60 million.  Another single lower-level condo unit in the luxury building, 43A, sold for $20,110,437.50.  There is also a 114 guest room luxury hotel in the tower.  according to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese investors made that hotel,“the most highly valued hotel in the U.S.” after agreeing to buy it for “more than $230 million. . .  .more than $2 million a room.”

. . . The central destination Brooklyn Heights Library in Downtown Brooklyn, expanded and fully upgraded in 1993, one of the most modern and up-to-date libraries in the system would cost more than $120 million to replace.  The city sold it for less than its tear-down value, for less than its value as a vacant lot, and because it was sold to a developer who's inferior bid was not the highest bid, it's sale became the subject of one of the pay-to-play investigations of the de Blasio administration.  When costs are finally calculated it is likely the city and library administration officials will have netted less than $25 million from this library's ruination.

. . . In two suspicious real estate deals the NYPL has sold the 34th Street SIBL library, the city's biggest science library (in the former Altman's Department Store between Madison and Fifth Avenues) for an aggregate amount that, in adjusted for inflation terms, is just barely equal to the $100 million the public paid for that library in 1996.  That is despite the library's prime location and fact that since that time the New York real estate market has been surging by multiples that far outstrip inflation.  The above-ground portion of the technologically state-of-the-art library was sold to one of the world's wealthiest men, renowned, like a character in a James Bond novel for a owning a fleet of the world's largest yachts, a force of vintage war planes and for building the world's biggest plane.  Maybe this technologist magnate acquired the science library because his father worked in a library and he remembered tagging along with him, overwhelmed by the information and daydreaming of "'the sci-fi theme of a dying or threatened civilization that saves itself by finding a trove of knowledge.'" . . . This low gross amount that the NYPL receives for selling SIBL is not what the NYPL will net from the sale, because the sale, part of a consolidating shrinkage affecting also the Mid-Manhattan Library, will be costly.  That  overall plan now known as the “Midtown plan” is referred to on the NYPL's website as costing “$300 million.”

. . . The Sunset Park Library is being given away by the city, without bid, for nothing to an organization, the Fifth Avenue Committee, that is politically connected to Mayor de Blasio.  Incongruously, the city says that it cannot give the recently renovated Inwood Library away without bid, but it appears that the library will be similarly handed-off unfairly and without charge to another organization that has an inside track.

. . . Similarly, the hand-offs of library space in the Red Hook Library and Williamsburg Library to Spaceworks are essentially giveaways that conceptualize the library space as being somehow useless.

. . . Banishing books to expensively keep them off-site must also be regarded as another cost draining the public pocket book.
For complete information go back to our Citizens Defending Libraries Main Page (or to read through all the content of our Main Page in LONG FORM CLICK)

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