The Great Public Facility Sell-Off

In need of at least $230 million for system-wide repairs, NYC libraries, which receive less than $15 million a year from the city, look to strike land deals with private developers, report Joseph Berger and Al Baker.
March 19, 2013, 6am PDT | boramici
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A relatively new practice of releasing public property assets to private developers with the caveat of preserving public services is picking up speed in NYC.

Cash-strapped public agencies, including the library, school and municipal system, are exchanging land and old buildings for new mixed-use developments that also integrate these former functions, usually on a public ground floor.

Several libraries in Brooklyn and Manhattan have already struck bargains with developers, including with major DUMBO and now Williamsburg player Two Trees, with the first Andrew Carnegie-financed library in Brooklyn slated for demolition.

Some residents object to the plans, which would upgrade ailing public service systems at no public cost, on the grounds that neighborhood landmarks would be lost to high-rise redevelopment and extended closures would make access to public services more complicated during the reconstruction process.

Planning experts, including Mitchell Moss at NYU and David Giles at the Center for an Urban Future, support the financing strategy because it would restore and upgrade public amenities across the board without raising taxes.

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Published on Monday, March 18, 2013 in New York Times
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