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Cobble Hill Residents Voice Opposition to LICH Plans At Meeting

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During a community meeting Wednesday night in Cobble Hill, residents continued to express opposition to the redevelopment of the Long Island College Hospital site that could see the addition of as much as 900,000 square feet of residential space, in an otherwise historic neighborhood with a 50-foot height restriction for buildings.

The developer, Fortis Property Group, presented two proposals to the community last month. The as-of-right development has shorter buildings but no affordable housing. The ULURP procedure, which Fortis prefers, has taller buildings, but in return promises the community a school, retail space, and affordable housing. Both projects include a medical facility, the NYU Langone Medical Center, which was part of the sale agreement made with New York state.

But the assembled crowd at the meeting Wednesday night was having none of it. More than 100 people had gathered in the auditorium at P.S. 29 on Henry Street, and everyone in the room cheered loudly as the vice president of the Cobble Hill Association, Adrian Doherty, announced that the neighborhood was against the ULURP plan. Since Fortis presented the revised plans to the community in October, the CHA has hosted more than 20 meetings with small groups of residents in the neighborhood to assess their views.

City Councilman Brad Lander had asked neighbors to fill out a survey, which went out throughout the neighborhood, about the proposals. The results revealed that people closest to the development were opposed to the ULURP plan, whereas people further away liked the idea of a new school coming to the neighborhood. But there was an overall majority supporting either an as-of-right development or no development at all. Lander was joined by State Senator Daniel Squadron and State Assemblyperson Jo Anne Simon. All three announced publicly that they were opposed to the ULURP Plan.

Fortis, however, says that the opposition at last night's meeting doesn't reflect the views of Cobble Hill as a whole. "More than 1,300 neighborhood residents told us over the past three weeks that they support our rezoning plan because they believe a new public school, affordable housing, and increased park space are top priorities for the neighborhood," a Fortis spokesperson told Curbed. "Unfortunately, tonight's meeting was not reflective of broader community sentiment, especially among current and future public school parents."

The Cobble Hill Association asked attendees for suggestions about how to move forward—some have suggested pursuing legal action to challenge Fortis' right to build on the land; others proposed asking the De Blasio administration to try to purchase the land through eminent domain. For now, the association says it will continue to appeal to the Mayor; the group was collecting signatures at the meeting Wednesday night, and will come up with concrete solutions on how to move forward as they hold more meetings in the coming months.

Fortis acquired the LICH property earlier this year for $240 million. The hospital shuttered in 2013 amid large-scale community protests over the lack of medical facilities in the neighborhood. Fortis can still decide to through with the ULURP process since decisions by community boards or neighborhood associations are only advisory, but the plan will likely face still opposition when it comes up before the City Council.
· Cobble Hill Residents 'Shocked' by Alternate LICH Plans [Curbed]
· Fortis Reveals Two Wildly Different Plans for Former LICH Site [Curbed]
· Controversial Conversion of Cobble Hill Hospital Chugs Along [Curbed]
· LICH Archives [Curbed]