Queens Public Library announced it is finalizing an agreement with Citi that will enable QPL’s Court Square branch to remain open in its current location at One Court Square through March 2020.
It was a bit of good news after the release of last Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget last week that did not include any additional operating funds for the the Queens, Brooklyn and New York public libraries after they made clear to the City Council and the de Blasio administration that they need an additional $35 million in operational support to deliver the current level of service.
“We are thrilled that Citi has offered to extend our $1-a-year sublease of the Court Square branch well beyond its August expiration, enabling us to meet our objective of remaining there as long as possible,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “Given that Citi’s lease ends weeks after out sublease ends, we are grateful it has given us the maximum extension possible. We are deeply appreciative of Citi’s flexibility and its decades of support for our mission. We also will continue to engage with the owner of the building and others to explore a long-term solution.”
Savanna, the real estate company that bought the 53-story tower formerly known as the Citigroup Building, was left at the altar when Amazon scuttled it plans for an HQ2 campus in Long Island City. Amazon was set to lease more than 1.5 million square feet of office space to use as a temporary headquarters during the build-out of the HQ2 complex and Citi was relocating its workers.
“We are longtime supporters of Queens Public Library and have been proud to provide space for the Court Square branch since we first opened our doors in Long Island City 30 years ago,” Citi Executive Vice President Edward Skyler said. “We also will support the Library in finding a long-term solution so this growing community isn’t deprived of this vital civic service.”
The agreement with Citi comes after months of discussions that would enable the Court Square branch to remain in the 3,200-square-foot space on the ground floor of the building for as long as possible.
“This extension is a great short-term victory that will ensure the Court Square Library’s invaluable services and programs are not disrupted,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.” The Court Square Library is a cornerstone of our growing community, serving thousands of individuals and families each year. It deserves a permanent home.”
The number of people who visit the branch and circulation have skyrocketed since it first opened in 1989. It attracts nearly 100,000 people a year, and offers hundreds of programs for the growing community of residents and employees of local businesses and government and non-profit organizations.
“I am glad our voices were heard and this important community asset will remain in place long enough to find a new home,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “The Court Square Library plays a crucial role for a growing neighborhood and I will do everything I can to ensure its continuing presence in our community.”