NEW YORK - Wednesday morning was the celebration of a project five years in the making: the opening of the brand-new Sunset Park branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
"Children come in here and they open books and they see something that they've never seen before," said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
While the celebration included tours of the new 21,000 square foot space, its the apartments on top of the center that make it unique.
"This is the first affordable housing that's been built in this neighborhood in over 20 years. And it's a neighborhood that's growing," says Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.
All of the new building's 49 units are affordable housing, making this the first library of this kind citywide. Residents moved in last year after a highly competitive lottery of more than 60,000 applicants.
One of them is longtime Sunset Park resident Miguelina Minier, who moved in with her son and anticipates spending a lot of time downstairs in the library.
"Instead of having him hooked up in video games, I'll come down and bring him books," she says.
It's part of a partnership with Fifth Avenue Committee and is a new development model that aims to find creative solutions to more than one problem at a time.
"The affordable housing crisis we are in has solutions," says Fifth Avenue Committee's Executive Director, Michelle de la Uz. "It comes down to two things: political will and investment."
The library itself is nearly twice its former size, which stood in the same place but was demolished for the new project. Compared to the old building's 13 electrical outlets, every nook and cranny in the modern space is tech ready.
The teen space, which library leaders tout as the largest in the borough, also features a state-of-the-art recording studio.
Apartments feature studios through three bedrooms, with a handful of units receiving Section 8 subsidies. Some are also set aside for formerly homeless families.
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