Developer rebrands LICH as ‘River Park’

Freshman 15: LICH developer threatens to add student dorms to high-rises if rezoning stalls
FXFOWLE / Fortis Property Group

Well, it’s better than “Tidal Strait Park.”

The developer of the old Long Island College Hospital is rebranding the area as “River Park,” the company revealed on Thursday.

The controversial Cobble Hill residential mega-development will actually be several blocks from the banks of the East River — which is, in fact, a salt-water tidal estuary — and short on grassy meadows, but Fortis Property Group argues the moniker is still apt since residents will enjoy views of the waterway from their towers and the park space that is there will be really nice.

“The name River Park is a natural and fitting evolution for this idyllic location in Cobble Hill,” said spokeswoman Dale Laplace. “Given the existing park space surrounding and within the site, which Fortis will only enhance and beautify, and with the serene river-adjacent location and spectacular East River views, the name is simply descriptive.”

The builder still hasn’t revealed its final designs for the sprawling new high-rise hub — which will fill the blocks bounded by Atlantic Avenue and Hicks, Columbia, and Pacific streets — but has so far filed plans for 17- 28- and 30-story luxury residential towers.

Fortis’s honchos had previously vowed that they wouldn’t add any more parkland to the site — beyond the small playgrounds and plazas already at Henry and Pacific streets — unless the community supported a rezoning to allow for more units.

When neighbors — who were furious the hospital was sold to a developer in the first place, and even more outraged once they saw Fortis’s towering designsdidn’t back the extra bulk, the builder decided to plow ahead under current zoning, and hasn’t announced any additional park plans since.

Tenants will still be able to visit Van Vorhees Park by crossing the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, or Brooklyn Bridge Park on the actual waterfront.

Locals found the name more uninspiring than inaccurate.

“How common a name!” said Cobble Hill resident Judi Francis. “It shows no imagination or recognition of its unique, historic location, nor of the majesty of this special harbor — it could be Kansas City or Rochester or any place along any river anywhere.”

The new name recalls developer Forest City Ratner’s rebranding of the Atlantic Yards mega-project in Prospect Heights as “Pacific Park” — although critics say the privately-run “park” planned there is more like a fancy front yard for the new buildings than true public green space.

The news of the rebranding was first reported by Curbed.

In other River Park news, Fortis also recently filed plans to test the market for condominiums in all three of its planned towers, according to a Real Deal report.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Simply descriptive: A look at the existing park space under Fortis’ plan for “River Park.”