LICH developer files plans for first towers — and they’re just what locals feared

Tower play: Fortis’s as-of-right plan for the old Long Island College Hospital site, which includes several glassy high-rises closer to the Cobble Hill Historic District.
FXFOWLE / Fortis Property Group

It wasn’t a facade.

The developer building a massive housing complex on the site of the former Long Island College Hospital filed plans for two towers on Wednesday, dashing some residents’ hopes that its earlier threats to build a high-rise over the Cobble Hill Historic District were just a bluff to push residents into supporting a rezoning.

But, just as promised, the plans show builder Fortis Property Group is planning a 15-story residential structure on a low-rise brownstone stretch of Henry Street, confirming locals’ worst fears that their brownstone-lined nabe will soon be overshadowed by tall buildings.

“It’s always a punch in the gut to see towers in Cobble Hill,” said Amy Breedlove, president of local civic group the Cobble Hill Association.

The Henry Street building, between Pacific and Amity streets, will include 30 apartments, a 21-car garage, and a swimming pool, according to the plans.

There will also be a 17-story high-rise on Hicks Street and Atlantic Avenue that includes 46 units on the top nine floors, six floors of community facilities — which can be used by hospitals and churches, but also as college dorms — and a four-story parking garage for 282 cars that may also serve a new medical center next door.

The developer’s honchos had threatened to build glassy towers over the landmarked low-rise district if local residents and pols didn’t support their efforts to rezone the land so they could build more units than is currently allowed. In exchange, they said, they’d erect a less-ugly complex farther away from the historic district.

When residents didn’t bite, the real estate tycoons announced in November that they will just going ahead with structures allowed under current zoning, and Cobble Hill Association members crossed their fingers that the developer’s earlier threats were all bluster.

But the plans filed Wednesday are broadly similar to those presented to the community in October last year, give or take a few stories.

Breedlove says it’s disappointing to see Fortis go through with building on the edge of the landmarked thoroughfare, but hardly surprising given the firm is trying to squeeze as much cash as it can from the project.

“We don’t want that height on the east side of Henry Street,” she said. “But it’s understandable given that a developer wants to take the maximum [building area] to make the most money.”

The two towers represent just a small part of the entire development — Fortis still hasn’t filed plans for the bulk of the complex in the two blocks bounded by Hicks, Henry, and Amity streets and Atlantic Avenue.

The developer has also not released new renderings of the complex, but the most recent ones feature a lot of glass, which particularly pained lovers of local historic architecture.

Fortis declined to comment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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