Cobble Hill

Fortis moving towards rezoning of massive LICH site, says Cobble Hill Association

February 25, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Fortis’ ULURP plan for LICH would include senior housing and a public school, but would have denser development than the as-of-right plan.  Rendering courtesy of Fortis Property Group

Despite the opposition of Cobble Hill residents and local officials, developer Fortis Property Group is “likely” to begin the process of rezoning of the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) site via ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure), rather than going ahead with a smaller as-of-right plan, according to the Cobble Hill Association (CHA).

Fortis has been heavily promoting the ULURP version of their plans for the former hospital campus.

Both plans include soaring towers and a new NYU medical facility with a stand-alone ER. But the ULURP plan, which requires community review, would entail more development in total than the as-of-right plan. As inducements, it would include senior and affordable housing, more park space and a public school.

The as-of-right plan, which does not require review, is less dense but has been upped to include student housing that could hold as many as 800 students.

CHA said in a statement on Wednesday that representatives of City Hall informed them last week of the decision.

CHA added that the group does not yet have the exact size and form of the rezoning proposal, “and City Hall claims that they are unable to provide any details until the initial filing under the ULURP takes place.”

De Blasio administration: Plans not solidified

However, both Fortis and the Mayor’s Office, which backs the ULURP plan, said that plans have not yet gelled.

De Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell said in an email, “There’s no update on the land use process here. We have continued to have extensive conversations with stakeholders from across the community to find the best path forward for this site.”

He added, “We continue to believe that pursuing a ULURP would deliver the maximum benefits to the people of Cobble Hill.”

Fortis spokesperson James Yolles told the Brooklyn Eagle, “As we’ve said all along, we want to work with the community to find a path forward for the former LICH site that makes the most sense for everyone. We look forward to discussing our proposed redevelopment plans once they’re solidified.”

According to CHA, the latest proposal that they have reviewed has a smaller residential component than the original proposal but includes a larger school (to be built on Henry Street at Atlantic Avenue).

“We eagerly await the filing of this new ULURP as it will determine how closely Fortis has been listening to arguments from the community against height and density levels that are inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhoods,” CHA said.

CHA, which fought the closing of LICH for several years, has been engaged in private discussions with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, Fortis and local elected officials since December.

Lawsuit not ruled out

 CHA has also not ruled out legal action against the developer.

“While the Cobble Hill Association was consulting with Fortis and City Hall, we have been simultaneously pursuing other initiatives,” the group said. “Our attorney, Marvin Mitzner, has been researching the full range of potential legal issues that bear on the redevelopment of the LICH site.”

Mitzner has also been pursuing “several administrative approaches to the Department of Parks and Buildings to restore and protect the public access to the Pacific Street pedestrian easement and the northern park on Henry Street.”

CHA added, “All legal avenues remain open to both the Cobble Hill Association and residents of Cobble Hill and there could be a time in the near future when a more robust legal effort is required.”

In November, Councilmember Brad Lander said he would work against Fortis’ higher-density ULURP option. Lander was backed by fellow area officials Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, state Senator Daniel Squadron and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.

Fortis purchased the LICH campus for $240 million, and is set to demolish the Fuller Pavilion and Othmer Pavilion extension, Fortis said on its website.