Nov. 30, 2020 By Christian Murray
The Queens Public Library has been offered space in a new development on Jackson Avenue that could see the return of the Court Square Library branch that was shuttered for good in February, according to officials.
The public library system has been offered space in the 5Pointz towers at 22-44 Jackson Ave. that are near completion. The terms of the deal—in terms of the cost and size of the space– have not disclosed but the library has until January 2025 to enter into a lease agreement, officials say.
“I can confirm that Queens Public Library is considering the 5Pointz location for a new library,” according to a QPL spokesperson. “We are continuing our due diligence and exploring our options—with the library’s financial stability of high priority—to make sure the right location is selected.”
The Court Square library had been located on the ground floor of One Court Square for 30 years. The library vacated the space after the lease it entered into with Citigroup in 1989—for a $1 per year—ended and the library was unable to renegotiate similar terms. In 2014, the building was bought by Savanna Realty and the company sought a market-rate tenant.
The Queens Public Library, however, is stretched financially given COVID-19—and it may not be in a position to take the space since opening a new branch is costly, sources say. The January 2025 deadline does provide the library more time to recover before having to make a lease commitment.
The offer of the new space comes at a time when the owner of 5Pointz, David Wolkoff of G&M Realty, needs the city to sign off on his two-tower development since it does not conform with zoning.
The two towers are six feet taller than what was originally permitted, leading to an extra story on each building—resulting in a 48 story and 42 story development.
Wolkoff is seeking what’s called a “minor modification” to the special rezoning permit he received in 2013, which allowed him to build the towers. The modification needs to be approved by the City Planning Commission, with input from the community board.
In October 2019, Wolkoff presented his application for the “minor modification” to Community Board 2, which rendered an advisory opinion.
The board approved Wolkoff’s request but only after a last minute motion put forward by board member Sheila Lewandowski asking him to provide 5,000 square feet of space for a library. She argued that Wolkoff needed to offer the community with some sort of tangible benefit before winning board approval.
The motion carried.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer welcomed the prospect of the Court Square branch coming back.
“It is good news that the Queens Public Library appears to have found a new home for the Court Square Library and the community that so desperately needs and deserves public library service,” Van Bramer said in a statement.
“I’m proud to have fought alongside the Court Square community to demand the Queens Public Library continue and expand their programs and services for this community,” Van Bramer added.
The City Planning Commission will be reviewing Wolkoff’s application for a “minor modification” on Dec. 14 and a vote with take place on Dec.16.
Wolkoff did not respond for comment.