End is in sight for long-awaited Hunters Point Library project in Long Island City

Renderings courtesy of the Queens Library

The Hunters Point Library will finally open next summer, as construction on the building scheduled to be completed by December of this year, according to the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC).

Once construction is completed, control of the building will be handed over to the Queens library who will add furniture, shelves, books, desks and computer stations among other things.

“We will be in charge of basically turning the building into a library,” said Elisabeth de Bourbon, communications director for the Queens Library. Bourbon did not know of any reason that would prevent the library from opening next year.

The library’s construction has been plagued with setbacks since before it even began. Plans for the Steven Holl designed concrete building with ink-blot shaped windows were revealed in 2011.  But construction did not begin to take place until 2015 after fear of overspending was mitigated. A  boost from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer helped the project move forward.

But disaster still seemed to follow. In 2017, construction halted when a glass shipment was stopped due a workers strike in Spain. Glass for the library’s windows had to be purchased in Europe due to limited glass availability in the United States.

“We have had our challenges with contractors,” said Thomas Foley, deputy commissioner for the NYC Department of Design and Construction.The 22,000-square foot library was expected to be opened early 2017. But financial issues with the building’s contractor Triton Structural, a California-based construction company, and unexpected design additions kept pushing completion behind schedule.

After construction began, it was decided that the building needed higher railings and “scope changes” according to Foley.

But Hunters Point community members are not confident in the DDC’s ability to complete the library on time. Residents at the Oct. 4 Community Board 2 meeting in Sunnyside said they were tired of the announcements of construction setbacks and a lack facilities.

“There are bunch of things that were part of the original plan that are not going to be included,” said Brent O’Leary, president of the Hunters Point Civic Association. The last time the Hunters Point Civic Association was given a walking tour of the library, it was unclear if the proposed rooftop coffee shop and reflection pool would be completed.

“When things started getting too expensive they started cutting,” said O’Leary. The initial budget for the library’s construction was $30 million, according to Foley. The city has now spent $37 million on the project.

“We hope that with Lorraine Grillo she can speed it up and be more transparent,” he added. Grillo was appointed commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction in July of this year.

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