LICHing their wounds: Cobble Hill leaders now say development could be worse, hope ‘hideous’ designs just a bluff • Brooklyn Paper

LICHing their wounds: Cobble Hill leaders now say development could be worse, hope ‘hideous’ designs just a bluff

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

Bring it on!

Many Cobble Hill residents are actually happy that the developer of the old Long Island College Hospital has abandoned community negotiations for its planned residential complex on the site — ditching below-market-rate housing and a school from the project in the process — because the builder will have to settle for smaller towers and fewer tenants without their support, according to local leaders.

Sure, the alternative designs builder Fortis Property Group has released in the past were ugly as sin, but one pol says they’re hoping the developer was just bluffing to bully them into accepting bulkier buildings.

“I don’t think the fact that they showed us the drawings that they showed us is any reason to believe that they would build what they would build,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Cobble Hill) at civic group the Cobble Hill Association’s annual meeting on Monday night. “They want to build a project that’s going to attract top dollar. Building a hideous project isn’t going to help you sell your condos.”

Fortis’s honchos shocked residents and pols earlier this month when they quit their year-long effort to secure the Cobble Hill Association’s and Lander’s endorsement to rezone the sprawling Atlantic Avenue infirmary for more units, announcing they’ll just go ahead with a slightly smaller design that doesn’t require anyone’s okay.

But that’s just dandy by many residents, who would rather a smaller influx of newcomers to the nabe than the perks Fortis was hoping would win them over to the rezoning plan — so-called “affordable” housing, space for a school, and less “hideous” buildings set back farther from historic brownstones — according to the leader of the civic group.

“It does mean lower population density because it will have less apartments, and I know that was one of the major contributing factors to so many of you not wanting the [rezoning],” said Cobble Hill Association president Amy Breedlove at the meeting.

And even those who supported the rezoning did so because the proposed buildings were more attractive and didn’t tower quite so much over the neighborhood’s pricey historic district, Breedlove said — not because of the below-market housing, which did not rate a single mention at the meeting.

Mayor DeBlasio and his administration, however, are pretty bummed about losing the affordable housing — they’ve promised to oversee construction of 80,000 new below-market units across the city by 2024, and were trying to keep the rezoning negotiations between the various parties alive.

The most recent public version of Fortis’s shovel-ready plan — the one Lander and Breedlove are hoping is a bluff — features four glassy towers of 25, 28, 16, and 14 stories, the latter jutting into the historic district on Henry Street.

Fortis has also threatened to build an 800-bed dormitory if residents didn’t let it go forward with the rezoning, but the pair also hope that was a fake-out.

Breedlove says she hasn’t heard from Fortis’s brass since the developer abandoned the rezoning, but is still holding out hope they’ll discuss their next steps with the community. But given the builders’ previous disregard for locals’ opinions, at least one resident said he’s not holding his breath.

“We’ve done all that we’ve done and they’re still the same a——- they’ve been from day one,” said resident Paul Neidenberg. “What’s important is to continue to stick a collective fork in their eye every time they file a piece of paper.”

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

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