UPDATED: LICH developer reveals plans for towers in Cobble Hill

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Photo gallery

Towering: Renderings of a proposed 44-story building and several smaller buildings for the former site of Long Island College Hospital.
Isn’t that nice: A rendering by the developer of the former Long Island College Hospital complex shows the verdant scene it says Hicks Street could become with the addition of some luxury housing.
Peaceful Pacific: Renderings show a planned pedestrian mall on Pacific Street between Henry and Hicks streets in Cobble Hill.
Park plans: Developers propose building a park in front of the “H Building” on Henry Street.
Greenery: Renderings show a happy scene in a proposed park in the former Long Island College Hospital complex in Cobble Hill.
Light shines down: Fortis Property Group tried to woo neighbors with scenes of open, peaceful parks in the proposed development, but people were not having it.
Verdant future: Developers from Fortis Property Group played up the positive aspects, like trees, of their planned development of the former Long Island College Hospital complex in Cobble Hill.
Amiable Amity: Renderings show a proposed plan for townhouses along Amity Street.
Plan one: Fortis Property Group’s “as-of-right” proposition, which includes a 44-story tower. Excuse the pen marks.
Plan two: Fortis Property Group’s second proposition, which includes a 40-story tower, but cannot be built under existing zoning.

Skyscrapers are looming over Cobble Hill.

Developers of the former Long Island College Hospital complex unveiled two proposed designs for luxury housing on the property at a heated meeting of the Cobble Hill Association on Monday evening, both featuring a building of at least 40 stories, which many in the packed-to-capacity room vowed to fight to the bitter end.

“This is going to be a decade-long battle — this is war!” said one man during the presentation by Williamsburg developer Fortis Property Group and architecture firm FxFowle. “Eighty percent of the people in this room are attorneys and they will be up your a-- every step of the way.”

Most of Cobble Hill lies within a historic district, where building height is restricted to 50 feet — or about four stories. But the Long Island College Hospital site is not restricted, allowing the developer to erect buildings that will tower over other residences in the neighborhood.

Fortis representatives first presented one so-called “as-of-right” plan — which means it complies with existing zoning for the property — consisting of a 44-floor tower on the block bound by Atlantic Avenue and Hicks, Henry, and Pacific streets; a 19-floor building one block over bound by Amity and Pacific streets; a 14-floor building on Henry Street between Pacific and Amity streets; and another 14-floor building on Hicks Street at Atlantic Avenue, with lower residential buildings, medical facilities, and existing parks filling out the rest of the complex.

The reps then showed a second plan that they said the developer believes is more in line with community demands for the site, but is too dense to be built under current zoning. That plan calls for a 40-floor tower on Hicks Street at Atlantic Avenue; a pair of towers, one 30 floors and one 20 floors, on the block bound by Hicks, Henry, Amity, and Pacific streets; and a 16-floor tower at Henry and Pacific streets, as well as ground-floor retail, townhouses, medical facilities, and green space.

And with that extra density, Fortis promised extra “public benefits” — adding about 454 parking spaces, 220 below-market-rate units, and possibly building a school in the complex, the presenters said

But the second plan would have to pass a land-use review process so the property could be rezoned. And the Fortis spokespeople warned that if the process drags on for years, the developer might just go ahead with the as-of-right plan that requires no community dialogue or rubber-stamp from elected officials.

But many of the neighbors, who poured into the Cobble Hill Health Center just hours after a Community Board official announced the meeting, did not seem to like either plan. The crowd frequently broke out into jeers as Fortis reps gave their presentation.

“Over my dead body!” one woman said in response to a rendering that showed the proposed 44-story building towering over the neighborhood, rivalled only by the Downtown skyline in the background.

The State University of New York agreed to sell Long Island College Hospital to Fortis for $240 million in June last year. The two parties were scheduled to close the deal on April 30, but a Fortis representative said it hadn’t happened yet. He refused to explain why, but said the company expected the deal to be sealed within a matter of weeks.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with new renderings and more information on the proposals.
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
“Eighty percent of the people in this room are attorneys and they will be up your a-- every step of the way.”

The upperclass vowing to make housing even more unaffordable. I'd expect nothing less from New York.
May 19, 2015, 6:38 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
there better be a poor door.
May 19, 2015, 8:31 am
Ryan from Boerum Hill says:
I do believe NYC needs to become more dense, but that building as rendered looks completely obnoxious given the existing neighborhood character. For once I won't jeer too hard at the NIMBY attorneys. Maybe NIMBY absolutists and obnoxious developers can find some medium that makes neither happy but serves the best interest.
May 19, 2015, 9:11 am
poker face says:
Fortis should call their bluff and build as-of-right. The community board and neighborhood association will come begging for a compromise.
May 19, 2015, 9:13 am
Mike says:
Anyone who thinks the majority of these units would be anything close to 'affordable' for the average middle class Brooklynite hasn't been paying attention for the last 10 years.
May 19, 2015, 9:19 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
They don't have to be affordable to a certain person. They have to cost less, period. Because you can't wish away rich people, even if self-described Progressives put wishing at the center of their agenda. These people exist and are going to live somewhere. Do you want them to live in a new building or do you want them to displace someone? That is the only question.
May 19, 2015, 9:39 am
a.m. goodridge from crown hts/prospect hts says:
where's our healthcare its time to keep the ER & hospital open it's belongs to the people in the hard working middle class community CB6 should reject & withdraw any 1% condo/hotel project the don't benetfit the backyard/historic & landmark brownstone communities lets keep it that way for the 99% & keep this hospital open the years to come.
May 19, 2015, 10:13 am
Robert from from the Slope says:
The developers had this well planned. The Cuomo and Diblasio administration should have caught this. Obviously they don't care. Waterfront property, overcrowding, traffic,. A monster ultraluxury skyscraper with tax abatements. Good work Fortis, you did your HW. I will take the Penthouse overlooking the river for $30mm.
May 19, 2015, 10:23 am
BevD from Red Hook/Carroll Gardens says:
Disgrace what is going on with such a prime area- LICH our hospital, that has been opened for three generations and has taught medic students to doctors of today. Towering ugly buildings are being drafted to replace the one hospital that is closest to all. Community, workers- extends as far as Heights to Park Slope - Hicks to Flatbush being the closest in an emergency. Distance of getting to another hospital is crucial. These medic offices that have opened on Pierrepont and on Union n Sackett St, don't cover emergency or the patient- doctor- Nurses relationship we have with our own doctors. Your brought there, looked at in event of emergency, straddled and brought to another emergency Hosp- waiting hours, neglected in dirty attire and than placed in room. Politicians, brokers, RE, architects are seeing development of $$ rather than Saving Lives.
Lives are taken- skyscraper towers are beaming. These put $ in their pockets
Four corners that are sinking from age are being torn up to build towers. Blocking out whatever sunlight there is
Park for children is less meaning to a planner. Over populated with condos.
How low will cost of housing be? -1,500- ? That is considered low and higher? What businesses- banks, Real Estates. Space for ???? WE NEED LICH to stay as it was and should be- HOSPITAL- we are scattering from one doctor to another, from one location to another, from one testing building location to another. We are all
May 19, 2015, 10:35 am
Duckie from Gowanus says:
I guess the best part of being on the 30th floor of this thing is that you won't hear the noise from the BQE. But seriously, I like the reconfiguration of the public garden on Henry Street. And I would suggest that Cobble Hill take a look at what community activism got (and didn't get) Park Slope when Methodist discussed their "as of rights" options for their new building. Choose your battles wisely or else everyone will lose.
May 19, 2015, 10:38 am
Duckie from Gowanus says:
"WE NEED LICH to stay as it was"... Hopelessly mismanaged and filled with incompetent administrators and self-serving union officials?
May 19, 2015, 10:42 am
verajay from cobble hill says:
they must be insane. is all i could think of right now. 40 stories bldgs??? for what. seems to me these developers hasnt learned from 911. why build these stories so tall and with glass and steel? i look out my bedroom window and see how they built downtown brooklyn with those tall ass bldgs. my view of the williamsburg bridge gone, the navy yard views gone,now they building bldg that may block my view of the chrysler bldg.smdh. and what about the emergency health care facility that was proposed???
May 19, 2015, 10:49 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
The buildings probably wouldn't make much difference to traffic because they're replacing a hospital with thousands of people coming and going. The wealthy people who can afford those units don't typically have lots of kids, so there probably won't be too much pressure on the schools. So what's the main objection, pure aesthetics?
May 19, 2015, 10:56 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Personally, right next to the BQE would not be where I'd want to live. It's not close to a subway stop, either, so it'd make commuting that way tiresome. Driving wouldn't be a ton of laughs because that section of the BQE is always congested. Now, if the water taxi stopped at Pier 6 and made its next stops at South Ferry/Whitehall and Midtown, it'd be a fantastic commute.
May 19, 2015, 10:57 am
Sonia from Brooklyn Heights says:
Can we please get more idiotic superior elitist nonsense from "Mike from Williamsburg?" That fake persona is so funny!
May 19, 2015, 11:30 am
worst yet from Brooklyn says:
Truly the most out of character vomit worthy design for a Brooklyn neighborhood yet. Congrat's to the architect for the most unimaginative design - you just joined the ranks of Scarano!

Looks like Cobble Hill is up for the fight so get ready for another stalled project - the long the better.
May 19, 2015, 11:43 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Sonia proves my point. The alpha and the omega of so-called Progressive thought in New York is wishing rich people didn't exist but would still pay taxes. I am embarrassed every day by New York's incompetent and foolish "left."
May 19, 2015, 11:54 am
Ray Cevoli from NYC says:
More apartments, higher population density, and less hospitals and first responders. What could possibly go wrong?
May 19, 2015, 12:03 pm
Dan from Boerum Hill says:
Prospective residents can either move to well off neighborhoods like Cobble Hill that can handle the added burden of wealthy residents or they can move out further down in Brooklyn to neighborhoods that can't. Instead of wasting our time battling progress, let's set these lawyers to work demanding a higher percentage of affordable housing and an end to tax abatement for high end towers. Likewise, let's modify building code so that buildings can be built to accommodate low and middle income residents while still returning a profit.
May 19, 2015, 12:17 pm
RN from NY says:
I hope you guys know that Gothamist is poaching your stories. I wouldn't care but that site is run by a bunch of idiot moderators. They need to grow up and a pair.
May 19, 2015, 12:32 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I'm pretty sure Gothamist is what first led me to the Brooklyn Paper and caused me to be a regular reader.
May 19, 2015, 12:58 pm
Kristina from Red Hook says:
Sorry but there are plenty of the rich folks that can afford to live there that will have kids. It's in a sought after neighborhood that already anticipates having zoned kindergarteners being sent out of their hood to attend school next year. If the city is going to allow such monstrosities to be built, it needs to invest in more education facilities and tax abatements will not help! I am not even going to touch on how wrong the design is on every possible level...
May 19, 2015, 1:44 pm
Joseph from downtown says:
We have our elected officials to thank for this over-scale and inappropriate development. They "orchestrated" and "choreographed" their oh-so-transparent arrests over LICH (of course, in order to get elected) and then totally and completely abandoned their constituents on the hospital and negotiated with Fortis (the lower bidder - what is that about?). This is not a case of affordable vs. luxury housing this is a case of our politicians not providing basic infrastructure for the existing 15,000 new apartments already in development. So, adding another thousand or so new apartments, will only make the quality of life - and actually life saving infrastructure like hospitals, fire and police - strained to the limit. It is madness.
May 19, 2015, 1:50 pm
True NEWS from Brooklyn says:
To de Blasio Hospitals Are Nothing But A Campaign Prop
May 19, 2015, 3:07 pm
ty from pps says:
i hope there are plenty of bike racks! I can't wait to move there.
May 19, 2015, 3:15 pm
Ursula from Downtown Brooklyn says:
a.m. Goodridge and Duckie claim to reside in Crown Hts/Prospect Hts and Gowanus, respectively, but their comments indicate them as hailing from the moon. Come on down and read up on what's been happening in the neighborhood during the past decade.
May 19, 2015, 3:51 pm
Richard Garey from Bronx says:
I would like all the Downtown Brooklyn NIMBY's to consider this. DeBlassio is currently attempting to upzone the Jerome Avenue corridor in the Bronx with the goal of adding housing in the tens of thousands. Much of the proposed housing will be constructed directly adjacent to an El train. Consider the associated noise and air pollution that the residents will have to endure. That El train (the #4) is currently over 100% capacity and perpetually runs with delays. There are no plans for any additional subway service in the West Bronx. The Second Avenue Line will not run to the Bronx and will minimally relieve congestion on the Lexington Avenue lines. 10451, 10452 and 10453 are already three of the most densely inhabitated zip codes in the nation well above many Manhattan zip codes. Does the Jerome Avenue corridor seem like a more logical place to you than Cobble Hill to be adding density? If your response is, Cobble Hill is historic. I would follow-up to say that the West Bronx has one of the largest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world. Most of those buildings are not protected in any form or fashion.
May 19, 2015, 3:53 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Corruption junction, what's your function? Giving away hospitals to richer people than you.
May 19, 2015, 8:31 pm
frank from furter says:
Does either plan include a school?
May 19, 2015, 9:32 pm
Barry from Flatbush says:
Brooklyn is officially dead.
May 19, 2015, 10:24 pm
samir kabir from cobble hill says:
There is a functioning Emergency Room in Cobble Hill. In the same place as the old Emergency Room at LICH - 83 Amity Street. I went there this weekend with a dental emergency. What I would like to know is: where are all these rich people coming from?
May 20, 2015, 5:31 am
NSU from Carroll Gardens says:
Income inequality and lack of emergency care aside-- PS 29 is already at overcapacity. A park doesn't help that, but a new school would!
May 20, 2015, 8:35 am
John from Carroll Gardens says:
Conspicuously absent from the first rendering are the two high rise buildings proposed for (and likely to be built on) land immediately south of One Brooklyn Bridge Park, which will make the wall of steel and glass all the more extensive and obnoxious.
May 20, 2015, 9:15 am
afordable? from Cobble Hill says:
What's affordable if there are no jobs left?

This pathetic sham to disguise up-zoing with "affordable/senior" housing has to stop. This is nothing more than fodder for real-estate brokers, real-estate tycoons and NYC Department of Finance at the expense of quality of life for Brooklynites.

We already have way more people than we need. Time to take what we have and make it better for those that are here.

Sorry wanta-be's, first come, first served.
May 20, 2015, 9:34 am
Newton from New Lots says:
Lots of comments here. I've got nothing to say but thought I'd join the crowd.
May 20, 2015, 12:20 pm
Decades-long Resident from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Folks, don't forget you're being shown concepts, not what the buildings will eventually look like. Don't be fooled by phony spacious parks, "verdant" streetscapes and unreal perspectives planners use these days to make anything palatable.

Ponder the question whether your current elected officials differ at all from those they replaced.
May 20, 2015, 2:22 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
When developers say that they will include affordable housing, what exactly do they mean by that? My guess is that they are using that term very loosely in how they define it. However, I feel that when they are using that term, they don't mean for the lower incomes, and the Atlantic Yards, now known as Pacific Park, is an example of that. I say that if developers don't promise any real affordable housing, they shouldn't even be allowed that 421-a tax abatement let alone any other tax breaks in that matter. Other than that, I don't picture how those buildings can be built there seeing the rest of the area not to mention losing an important hospital such as LICH. Then again, most didn't care much about St Vincent's Hospital over in Greenwich Village until it was being slated for demolition to have luxury housing that was given the green light thanks to then-City Speaker Christine Quinn.
May 20, 2015, 2:56 pm
TOM from Sunset Parc Lower says:
Can't hear the BQE from the 30th floor? Surprise, sound travels up freely because its unimpeded. I remember being on the 23rd floor balcony of the Bay Ridge Towers. Traffic was noisy and collisions were 'local' events. We made a sport of calling them in.

Of course, you could get binoculars and watch aircraft land at EWR, LAG and JFK. Great for fireworks--you could sell tix.
May 20, 2015, 4:32 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Shazaam! Watch me pull a high rise out of a hat. You can't control how many people get to live in Brooklyn. If they want to live here, and they can afford it, they will. Not a damn thing you can do about it. You just have to suck it up.
May 20, 2015, 5:57 pm
Robert from from the Heights says:
Awesome, the value of my property is going up. Sure we are going to get great stores like Chanel, Ferugamo, Prada, Fendi. Like Rodeo Drive and 5th Ave in Manhattan. Only the best for Downtown Brooklyn
May 20, 2015, 5:58 pm
Local doc from Cobble Hill says:
This all due to Cuomo and Delousio giving it all away to their big contributors. Screw the health needs of the community.
May 20, 2015, 9:18 pm
Used to love my neighborhood from Brooklyn Heights says:
Local doc -- you sure got that right,
May 21, 2015, 4:44 am
Brooklyn or bust from Cobble Hill says:
Remember when Deblasio got arrested trying to save LI hospital, and now it will become condos. Nice publicity stunt for Deblasio and just another showcase of his failure as a mayor. As a council member he was horrible and provided the worst constituent services assistance and it didn't get any better when he became public advocate. So, now the same terrible staff which were with him like Emma Wolf and Dominik Williams who displayed absolutely no follow thru skills continue to hone their skills doing nothing and getting paid for it.
May 21, 2015, 12:02 pm
James from Cobble Hill says:
I was at the meeting. The representatives from Fortis were smirking the entire time, almost laughing in our faces. Unfortunately, sometimes the locals who speak up at these meetings are too folksy and can be a bit embarrassing, but I commend their efforts in caring about their neighborhood. I understand that this is Fortis' business, and the goal is to make as much money as possible... But enough is enough... 800 new units on Atlantic and BQE, spilling into historic parts of Cobble Hill with no respect for existing scale. NO! They also want to have retail space on Pacific - the only businesses that will be able to afford the rent will be big corporations - it will be Verizon, Sleepy's, J Crew, CVS, Starbucks, etc... We are all idly letting each neighborhood turn into a suburban dry heave. Fortis will take a dump on Cobble Hill and move on... See you all at 7-11 for some slurpees!
May 22, 2015, 11:06 am
Licher from Cobble hill says:
The fortis deal hasn't been closed yet because the lich doctors have a lawsuit against SUNY over the sham process that gave SUNY's preferred buyer, Fortis, the win on the bid despite the rules of the rfp. SUNY can't sell while the case is still in court.
May 23, 2015, 11:12 pm
Joe from lich says:
First deblasio helped nyu & fortis get lich - after he famously grandstanded to "save" the hospital. Now he's about to hand over the NYCHA houses to private developers. First he "helped" Cobble Hill. Red Hook next.,
May 23, 2015, 11:34 pm
J. in CH from CH says:
DiBlasio was never a friend to this neighborhood; remember what he and Markowitz did to CB6 ?

Cooperation with Fortis is useless; they're in it for the money so don't expect them to offer any deal that isn't actually better for them.

One possible plan is hindrance (make the work drag on). Another is compliance (make them dot every i and cross every t). Another is to find out exactly what they are liable for and watch it like a hawk.

A significant rebuild of the BQE would gum up their plans. Long overdue, you know.
May 25, 2015, 12:40 am
DeeJay from Brooklyn Heights says:
Daniel Squadron took thousands of dollars from Moses Kestenbaum , Joel Kestenbaum , Louis Kestenbaum the owners of Fortis Development that stole the Lich property for peanuts on the dollar , Preet Bhara should open an investigation on how Fortis got the Lich property for half its value. All of us tax payers are pawns in this crooked corrupted chess game NY Governor Cumo took money from the Kestenbaums , its all on public record . Now that Kestenbaum has come forth with this mega development he is reneging his promise on keeping lich as it was before therefore the lich property should go back on the market for its full potential market value , I'm sure that SUNY could use an extra few hundred million dollars
May 26, 2015, 9:24 pm
bee from park slope says:
Yes, the US Attorney should get involved. So many
shady deals, so many corrupt players in our local and state government.

It's not only the hospital. What about all the townhouses and outside buildings that were sold off to friends of SUNY/Coumo at bargain basement rates?

For example the LAMM building was sold for 3 million and now 3 years later each unit in it will be sold in the 5-8 million range. Nice to have politicians in your pocket.
May 28, 2015, 11:56 am
The rent is too damn high says:
It is not "housing" that they're planning to build. It is not "affordable". It is luxury condos. No body is going to suffer from anything while the community fights this..... Except maybe the ultra rich who won't be able to move into their luxury condos & will have to wait to watch the sunset behind the Statue of Liberty.

This is the end of Columbia Street too.
And watch out Red Hook. The next thing we'll hear is that luxury real estate developers want to re develop "help NYCHA out" & refurbish the red hook houses......for luxury condos & maybe a few "affordables"
June 6, 2015, 10:16 am
J. from CH says:
@Rent: "Appropriate redevelopment" they call it:
June 14, 2015, 10:51 pm
L from Cobble Hill says:
Awesome - now I just have to let the 3rd F train go by before I can get on and get to work. Or, hope for the (G)host train to show up so I can hop over to the A. Nice! Say goodbye to all of the local businesses who can't afford to stay here any longer and hello to a neighborhood with nothing but apartments. No services and goods offered except from the deep pocketed big box stores who can afford it. There goes the neighborhood :-)
Dec. 13, 2015, 1:52 am

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