Cobble Hill

Fortis files plans to build towers on two sites at former Long Island College Hospital (LICH)

Cobble Hill Association: 'A punch in the gut'

December 8, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Fortis Property Group filed plans with the city to build a 17-story tower and a 15-story tower on  two sites at the former Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill. Rendering by FXFOWLE Architects

The much-debated and highly-litigated redevelopment of the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH) campus in Cobble Hill is rolling ahead.

Fortis Property Group filed plans with the city Department of Buildings (DOB) on Wednesday to build a17-story tower at the site of a seven-story garage at 350 Hicks St. at the corner of Atlantic Avenue.

The developer has also filed plans for a 15-story residential building at 347 Henry St., the former LICH pharmacy/nurse’s residence at the corner of Amity Street. This site is close to the Polhemus Building, which the company is also redeveloping.

Fortis declined to comment on the developments.

“We are reviewing the submission with zoning and land-use experts. It’s always a punch in the gut to see the renderings of towers in Cobble Hill and to feel again how SUNY [the State University of New York] left us with this mess and damage to our historic neighborhood,” Amy Breedlove, president of the Cobble Hill Association (CHA), told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday.

She added, “For many the reality of the development is what is most jarring. But we have always known the reality of an AOR [as-of-right] and we will fight for what is best for Cobble Hill, the neighborhood in which this development stands and will be a part of for decades to come.”

Fortis: As-of-right redevelopment ‘most profitable’

Fortis bought the historic hospital campus from SUNY for $240 million after a protracted legal battle with numerous community organizations and local officials. After presenting two versions of its development plans to CHA, the company decided to move forward with the as-of-right version, which will not require rezoning.

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Last month, Fortis President Joel Kestenbaum said in a statement, “We have decided to move forward with an as-of-right redevelopment plan for the LICH site. Based on the high demand for community facility space at this premier location, timing and other development factors, an as-of-right redevelopment is the most profitable.”

“The announcement by Fortis is a sorry coda to a string of failures and even misuse of power by government agencies and elected officials whose mandate is to uphold the public interest over private enrichment,” Peter Bray, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA), said on Thursday.

Bray added, “As Fortis made clear, it is proceeding with the ‘most profitable development’ and the developer makes no mention of what this development will mean to Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights residents and to their already severely overburdened infrastructure. The BHA is strongly opposed to this irresponsible development plan which will adversely affect the adjacent historic communities.”

The as-of-right development plan was also bad news for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had backed an alternate plan which would have included affordable housing, a priority of his administration. But this plan, which would have required community review via ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure), entailed 43 percent more development in total than the as-of-right plan, and it was opposed by CHA and Councilman Brad Lander.

De Blasio, as public advocate, had fought alongside the community and unions to preserve LICH as a full-service hospital. At one protest, he and several councilmembers stormed through the doors of the hospital to present demands to its administrator, who locked himself in his office. At another, he was arrested in an act of public defiance.

Upon his election as mayor, however, he dropped his opposition to the sale and backed a plan which would allow development and replace the hospital with a “stand-alone” emergency clinic operated by NYU.

Details for 350 Hicks St.

The plans for 350 Hicks were detailed by FXFOWLE Architects on the DOB website. The 17-story apartment building will include four floors of enclosed parking, two bike parking rooms, a community storage room, a gym, a kids’ room and a party room, and five residential units on each floor from eight through 16. A community facility is planned for floors four through six.

Details for 347 Henry St.

The plans for 347 Henry St. were detailed by Romines Architecture PLLC on the DOB website. The 15-story apartment building will include a swimming pool and fitness room, bike storage and a tenant storage room, parking, two terraces on the second floor, three units per story on floors three through ten, and one unit per story on floors 11 through 15.

112 Pacific to be demolished

In April, Fortis also filed with DOB to demolish the existing building at 112 Pacific St., the former LICH dog lab. No details about what will replace it have been filed.

Fortis plans to remove the pedestrian bridge that connects the former H-Building and Polhemus, stretching across Amity Street just west of Henry Street, this weekend and next weekend. This work requires road closures and crane work.

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