Cobble Hill to Fortis: Don’t build that wall
Fortis’ Fortress Plan Hits Brick Wall, Back to the Drawing Board
After hitting a wall of community opposition at a Community Board 6 committee meeting Thursday night, Fortis Property Group withdrew its application to build a nine-foot-high brick wall as part of the planned luxury 5 River Park development bounded by Amity, Henry and Pacific streets in Cobble Hill.
The design called for the wall to extend 49 feet around a proposed swimming pool at 347 Henry Street in the Cobble Hill Historic District.
“We withdrew the application and are working with the community to re-issue a design with community input,” a Fortis spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle on Friday.
The vote was 14 to one, with one abstention.
On Tuesday, Fortis officially brought 5 River Park to market. It represents the beginning of Phase II of the redevelopment of the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH). Phase I included the Polhemus Residences and Townhouses.
5 River Park would be the first new construction tower to rise within the seven-building LICH site.
Councilmember Brad Lander and a representative from Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon’s office spoke out against the wall on Thursday, as did the Cobble Hill Association (CHA).
CHA said it had been “blindsided” by Fortis’ wall plan.
“We have a task force for precisely this type of issue,” Amy Breedlove, the association’s president, told the Brooklyn Eagle before Thursday’s committee meeting. “Fortis did not bring it forward in the working group which met just a week and a half ago and includes the council member, CB6 general manager and the CHA.”
“A 9-foot solid wall for nearly 50 linear feet is not appropriate in our landmarked neighborhood and there is no precedent for such a wall,” she said.
A rendering shows a 9-foot-tall, blank, brick masonry wall with a metal gate surrounding a landscaped lap pool area.
CHA’s zoning expert has questioned the location of the swimming pool with regard to zoning requirements. In a statement to the community, CHA said the pool was not included in Fortis’ request for approval.
Fortis says 5 River Park features contextual design “with a palette of traditional materials common to Cobble Hill.” The property houses 25 residences ranging in size from one to four-bedrooms which are priced from $1.15 million to more than $7 million.
Something There Is that Doesn’t Want a Wall
Breedlove said that many community members were concerned that building walls “seems to be a theme in our society and not one they agree with. We have also heard from neighbors that Cobble Hill is not a gated community with walls to keep neighbors separate.”
In the words of Robert Frost:
“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”
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