UPDATED: LICH developer reveals plans for towers in Cobble Hill

UPDATED: LICH developer reveals plans for towers in Cobble Hill
Williams New York

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 nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz