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Fortis Reveals Two Wildly Different Plans for Former LICH Site

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Despite continued objections by community residents, the redevelopment of the former Long Island College Hospital site in Cobble Hill is slowly but surely moving forward. In May, Fortis Property Group released its first batch of renderings for the site, which provoked outrage from Cobble Hill residents (one person called them "kind of disturbing"). And now, after a series of community meetings, Fortis has revealed two ever-so-slightly updated plans for the site: one "as-of-right" plan, which would not require community approval moving forward, and a ULURP plan, which calls for rezoning of the neighborhood and would require a community approval process.

[On the left, a rendering of the as-of-right plan; on the right, a rendering of the ULURP plan. Renderings via FXFOWLE]

Fortis launched a new website today that offers detailed breakdowns of both proposals, along with renderings for both the as-of-right and ULURP plans, which you can see above. While there are some surface similarities between the two plans—new residential buildings, an NYU medical center, and public parks are features of both—they differ wildly when it comes to things like affordable housing, neighborhood retail, and public schools.

The as-of-right plan, pictured above, would allow for approximately 528,000 square feet of market-rate residential, spread out across several buildings (including a 434-foot, 35-story tower, as well as the converted Polhemus Building). There's an allocation for a 262,555-square-foot "community facility"—rumored to be a college dorm—but the plan doesn't allow for any affordable housing units. Additionally, the plans lacks any space for new retail. In total, it covers 896,460 square feet.

Meanwhile, the ULURP plan, pictured above, has what the renderings call an "urban/contextual design." It would include a total of 1,280,000 square feet, with 900,000 of that parceled out for market-rate residential, and 225,000 square feet earmarked for affordable housing. The proposal also includes space for a public school on Henry Street, along with 10,000 square feet of retail space. The tallest building in the ULURP plan would be a 408-foot, 37-story residential tower on the western edge of the complex, closer to the BQE.

The other big difference between the two projects: If Fortis proceeds with the as-of-right plan, they would not need community input or approval to begin redevelopment. The ULURP plan, meanwhile, would be subject to the lengthy, complicated land-use review process; that plan would also include a full environmental review and traffic studies of the neighborhood, where the as-of-right plan would not. It also reflects community input from a series of meetings that happened over the summer.

Still, even with community input, it's unlikely that Cobble Hill residents will be happy with the updated plans. Cobble Hill Association president Roy Sloane called the competing proposals a "scare tactic" over the summer, one meant to force the neighborhood into agreeing to the ULURP plan, which provides more immediate community benefits. And in a statement provided to the Wall Street Journal, Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, made it clear that of the two plans, the ULURP one would get the administration's backing:

"We're presented with a choice between securing community needs like affordable housing, a school, an open space, and a scenario that delivers none of those benefits. There is no question which one the administration would rather pursue." For its part, Fortis is aware of the pushback, and CFO Terrence Storey told the WSJ, "if we can get to the point where the plan is good for the community and for Fortis that's what we'll do." But the community has yet to weigh in on these updated proposals, so we'll see whether or not that comes to pass.
· LICH Project [Official]
· Fortis Property Group Offers Two Plans for Site of Long Island College Hospital [WSJ]
· Cobble Hill Residents Think LICH Proposal Is a 'Scare' Tactic [Curbed]
· Finally, a Look at LICH's Hated Residential Conversion [Curbed]