NYC shuts down work on LICH building after wood blasts across street, damaging windows, car

Squadron: ‘Scary and dangerous’ incident at former Long Island College Hospital site in Brooklyn

March 2, 2017 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle

It’s just lucky no one was standing across the street, neighbors said.

The New York City Buildings Department slapped a Stop Work Order on a building being redeveloped at the site of the former Long Island College Hospital on Thursday morning after high winds blew plywood and other unsecured construction materials off its roof.

According to the Buildings Department, FDNY rushed to the scene of the former Polhemus Memorial Clinic at 350 Henry St. in Cobble Hill to find that the plywood blew off the roof of the building “hitting building across the street [and] damaging windows, light post and vehicle.”

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The Polhemus building, bought by Fortis Property Group as part of the controversial $240 deal for LICH, remained unsecured despite warnings from the city to contractors to batten down their work sites in light of the expected high winds.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron’s office reached out to the Buildings Department after FDNY was called in. Buildings found two other violations Thursday at the site as well: failure to install fall protection for workers, and smoking on site.

“Another day, another incident at the LICH site — this one both scary and dangerous,” Squadron told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday. “It’s another instance of our former health care facility becoming a development site that disregards and endangers the local community.”

He added, “I appreciate the Department of Building’s responsiveness to my office today and the FDNY’s fast response this morning and will continue to work to hold Fortis accountable.”


A Fortis spokesperson told the Eagle, “As a result of extraordinary high winds, materials were blown off of the building site. No injuries were reported and both our team and FDNY were on the scene immediately following the incident. All damaged areas have since been secured.”

SUNY Downstate Medical Center shut-down and sold LICH to Fortis following a grueling two-year legal battle with community groups and health-care professionals.

The red-brick and limestone Polhemus building, constructed in 1896-1897, has been called an “architectural jewel.” Fortis plans to create 17 apartments in the eight-story, 43,187-square-foot building, according to plans filed with the city Buildings Department.

Thursday’s incident is just one of several neighbors have had to endure with construction at the former LICH.

Roughly two weeks ago the Buildings Department said it would refrain from issuing after-hours variances for work on other buildings on the LICH campus after neighbors complained that contractors had disregarded the variances’ rules and started work as early as 5 a.m.

In October, falling bricks injured two workers. In August, a fire broke out on the roof of the Polhemus building.

In December, 2015, neighbors fumed about demolition work at 43 Columbia Place despite numerous violations reported to the Department of Buildings over more than a month.

According to documents filed with the City Register, Fortis, under the name of FPG Ch 43 Columbia, LLC, bought the property from SUNY on Sept. 1, 2015 for just over $5 million.

UPDATE: Fortis sold the property nine days later, on Sept. 10, 2015, for roughly $2.6 million to a company with a similar name: FPG Ch 43 Columbia Holdings LLC. This company’s address is listed as 5308 13th Ave. #165 in Brooklyn, which is a cell phone store that rents mailboxes in Borough Park.

The owner/manager was listed on an LPC permit as a David Sinai (also spelled Sinay). City documents list his address as 5308 13th Ave. #165 as well.

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