July 29, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
Elected officials and Queens Public Library leaders unveiled the design plans for the new Rego Park library branch during a press briefing at the existing site Wednesday.
The plans will see the present library structure at 91-41 63rd Dr. demolished and replaced with a two-story 18,000-square-foot building. The new state-of-the-art structure will be more than twice the size of the existing branch—a single story, 7,500 square foot building that opened in 1975.
The new building, budgeted at $33.2 million, will include separate reading rooms for children and teens, as well as additional space for computer access, educational programs and community activities. It will also be ADA accessible.
Construction is expected to begin in the winter of 2022, with the anticipated completion being the summer of 2025. The building has been designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architects in coordination with the NYC Department of Design and Construction.
The project was first announced in 2017 by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Karen Koslowitz. Koslowitz has been advocating for a new building since the 1990s.
Among the public officials in attendance yesterday were Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, State Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Joseph Addabbo Jr., and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.
Koslowitz, who also served as a councilmember in the 1990s, says the area has been in need of a larger library for decades. She says the project had been stalled due to issues with securing funding, but is relieved that the project is finally in motion.
“Today, I can say with confidence, thanks to the support of four past and present borough presidents, four past and present council speakers and Mayor de Blasio, this library project is finally on its way to completion,” said Koslowitz.
Katz—a former borough president who advocated for the project—said the larger, upgraded facility will provide a safe place for children, teens and seniors.
“When this makeover is complete, it will give our seniors and everyone else in the surrounding area greater access to computers, community activities and, of course, thousands of entertaining and educational books to read,” Katz said.
The Rego Park branch is among the busiest in the borough, serving – under normal circumstances – nearly 200,000 people a year and lending about 190,000 items each year.
Since May 24, when the branch reopened for computer use and other in-person services, it has been among the 10 busiest in the 62-branch Queens Public Library system.