News analysis: If LICH closes, housing towers could rise

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The State University of New York’s plan to shut down Long Island College Hospital would turn a swath of Cobble Hill into a real estate gold mine that would give developers everything they dream of: location, location, and location.

The ailing medical center is worth more dead than alive to buyers thanks to its primo spot and friendly zoning just outside the Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights historic districts, giving whoever snatches up the land the rare chance to erect the very kind of apartment housing that the landmark zones were designed to stop.

As such, the sale of the 155-year-old medical center could be the biggest of its kind in Brooklyn in almost a decade, said the legendary broker and realty expert Chris Havens, who called the possibility “momentous.”

“It’s just so rare that something this big gets converted,” Havens said of the Cobble Hill institution, which the State University voted to close last Friday.

The last sale of its caliber in Brownstone Brooklyn was the 2004 turnover of nearby 360 Furman St. in what is now Brooklyn Bridge Park, which developers snatched up for more than $200 million, Havens said.

The sale of Long Island College Hospital real estate could be even more valuable, possibly netting as much as $500 million for the state, as this newspaper reported last month.

If the land is sold to a developer, housing is a near certainty, Havens said.

“That’s by far the most valuable use, or as they say in the business, the highest and best use,” Havens said.

The hospital’s property is already zoned for residential use, and Cobble Hill isn’t a great neighborhood for retail, he said — there, landlords can charge twice as much for residential spaces as commercial spaces.

Because the main hospital building is right next to a landmarked district — but not in it — developers can get all the charm of historic Cobble Hill with none of the red tape, said Ward Dennis, a Williamsburg-based preservationist and land-use expert.

“With LICH in particular, you’re right next to Brooklyn Heights and in Cobble Hill, which are in demand in part because they are historic and have historic character,” Dennis said. “So you can certainly piggyback on some of that.”

And the deal keeps getting sweeter for developers: a buyer could erect a tall “tower in the park”-style development, thanks to the main building’s city-block-sized footprint and the current zoning.

Any hospital closure must first be approved by the state board of health, and neighbors are hoping Albany will deem the institution too important to shut down because of the added strain it would place on other borough medical centers. The second hope, as this paper reported last week, is that Long Island College Hospital doctors can secure a buyer who would take the troubled institution off the State University’s hands and keep it open — a bid that doctors say should be taken seriously, with at least two suitors in preliminary discussions.

“It’s highest and best use is as a health care institution,” said Roy Sloane, president of the Cobble Hill Association. “We are not entertaining conversations about a sale.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

RNs from LICH says:
There has been no decision by the Department of Health on Downstate's plan to close LICH, so despite SUNY, LICH IS STILL OPEN, staffed, equipped, providing care and conducting business. We want to keep it that way so we doctors, nurses, and staff have taken our fight all the way to the Supreme Court to stop SUNY Downstate from closing LICH.

And newsflash....

"Judge slaps SUNY trustees with temporary restraining order

New York judge, the Hon. Betsy Barros has issued a temporary restraining order to keep LICH open for care.

On Wednesday, NYSNA, 1199, and the Concerned Physicians of LICH filed suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Kings County, against the SUNY trustees’ illegal vote. Their vote violated our state’s open meeting law.

This temporary restraining order stops the SUNY Board or anyone acting on their behalf from taking action to close LICH. The judge has scheduled a hearing to review our case on March 7.

Here’s the text of the judge's order:

“Sufficient cause having been shown therefore, it is ordered that pending the hearing of this motion, the respondents and all other persons, known or unknown, acting in their behalf or in concert with them in any manner or by any means, are hereby enjoined and restrained from: executing and implementing the approval of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York by acting to close Long Island College Hospital, including any communication with the Department of Health in furtherance of the application submitted or to submit any such application to close Long Island College Hospital.”

If you see any SUNY official or hospital administrator try to divert patients, cancel procedures, or cut patient care, please report the incident to the New York State Nurses Association at 212-785-0157.

We are stepping up the pressure on all fronts: building community alliances, reaching out to elected officials, and caring for our patients every day.

We will use this order to stop the people who are out to close our hospital. But we won't rely on the courts alone.

If SUNY doesn’t want LICH anymore, we want to allow LICH to find another partner to take it off SUNY’s hands –one that is more stable and can manage more competently than SUNY has.

We Need YOUR help to pressure the Governor and Department of Health Commissioner and let them know that this community needs its full-service hospital. Contact info is at

LICH doctors, nurses and staff are available to meet with any school, church or community groups that would like more information on the current situation at LICH and the fight to save it.

Together we are going to keep LICH open for care --- for good".

Feb. 21, 2013, 1:15 am
jjm from ch says:
If they do build housing there its gonna be more luxury condo trash that most people cant afford. but look at the somewhat bright side, the thieves are gearing up to rob more possible douchebags lol
Feb. 21, 2013, 8:43 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
So what if it's luxury condos that most people can't afford? People who can afford it will live there instead of bidding up the rents of the older buildings in more distant neighborhoods. If the East Village weren't kept underdeveloped, does anyone think Bushwick would be gentrifying now?

The ONLY ways to make housing affordable are to make enough of it or to make it undesirable to live in New York for non-financial reasons. I know which I prefer.
Feb. 21, 2013, 9:54 am
Concerned from Brooklyn says:
I personally do not want Condos. I want a hospital. I use LICH. I would hope that the residents would wake up an rise up. This is a disaster if this hospital closes. I have personally been very moved by the response of the nurses. They are fighting to keep this hospital in the community. I have talk to a few of them while they are out making residents aware of the closure. It is not about money because they told me they have been giving up raises due to the financial situation. They trully care for the community and love serving the communit. It is sad, sad the response especially from the young people in the area. I hope nothing bad happens to you!
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:05 am
outsider from queens says:
I don't live in your community - I only work there. But maybe not for much longer if the hospital closes because our little shop is going to lose a lot of business if that happens. Personally all I know from reading what downstate executives have been saying in the news is basically that your hospital has to close & leave you all stranded because they screwed up their other businesses in Flatbush. So now they want you all to pay you for the mess they themselves made someplace else. You have to suffer from not having a hospital here so they can fix something someplace else that they caused themselves. If I had to live here & somebody was putting my life at risk like that & for that stupid reason, they would be hearing me all the way DC. If you let it happen, you'll probably be paying with your lives. But I notice the save lich posters in the windows all along the avenue & see the comments so I guess the community is awake & is doing something about this. Good thing too. They should fight as hard for their hospital as they do for their parks and libraries around here. If that hospital closes downstate people say you can just go to another hospital in some other neighborhood. But think about it. What would people around here do if the city said you don't need a library here - just go to the big one a few miles away. Or you dont need a park in this neighborhood - just go to Prospect. Same thing with the hospital. Only worse cause that's your life on the line.
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:26 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
the real estate analysis is not complete or accurate. here is the zoning map its a r-6 not the densest and not that high. there is also an Atlantic avenue over lay. yes they could group all the building in a slender building in a park like setting unless they have the`state bid it out through the ESDC and over ride the zoning but Cuomo would then lose Brooklyn. did ask the community board about this CB6
Feb. 21, 2013, 10:27 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
the rumor about 500 million from the Donald significantly over values the property. a full block in downtown manhattan, where the pathmark now is just sold for 175 million and is a lot easier to clear with I think higher zoning. except if the governor has agreed to make this a casino...I shouldn't give them any idea.
Feb. 21, 2013, 11:02 pm
DS from Cobble Hill says:
Start the count down now to luxury condos. Nice ones. Look at how successful the high end condo developement on Court St. btw Sackett/Union has been. Those units are all sold while construction is still ongoing. In this location you will have big time developers salivating (Two Trees, Related, Toll Brothers, etc). They will bid this site up a to an astronomical price, then in turn construct high end condos, and live happily ever after. With Pier 6 nearby, good schools, retail on Atlantic all at the crossroads of Cobble Hill and BK Heights ...its a no brainer.
Feb. 22, 2013, 11:50 am
Susan from Downtown Brooklyn says:
I've lived here for 6 years and fortunately only been to the hospital once but as we age most of us will rely on medical care. In some cases, that time arrives earlier, in the form of illness or birth defects. It is very convenient to have a hospital in the neighborhood. If you have been lucky enough not to have needed to consider this, please remember that you are not one of the people who may be looking at that high-priced real estate they are speaking about erecting if the hospital is sold.
Feb. 22, 2013, 1:36 pm
cano from downtown says:
don't people realize that all those new apartments will have lots of people in them. and lots of new pople coming in will strain the resources of the area. sure ds you would have almost everything here for all those thousands of people, pier 6, good schools, retail AND NO HOSPITAL. and that's ok? I wouldn't want to live in an area that had no firehouse for miles or one where I had to go to manhattan to get a quart of milk. why would anybody think its ok to have no hospital for the thousands of people who can't or don't want to drive up the FDR.
Feb. 23, 2013, 10:47 pm

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