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Redevelopment of Brooklyn's embattled LICH at a standstill

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Developers continue to push for rezoning of the site, and the community continues to balk

After what feels like a lifetime of battling back and forth, developers (and the De Blasio administration) and the slew of parties that oppose the Long Island College Hospital redevelopment plans are still deadlocked over the fate of the Cobble Hill site. While the bidding processed proceeding the sale of the LICH site is undergoing federal investigation, negotiations to determine the fate of the site "have slowed, but have not entirely stopped," reports Politico.

To refresh: the site was purchased by Fortis Property Group for $240 million back in 2015, much to the chagrin of neighborhood groups and local politicians. Fortis later revealed two very different plans for the site—one that could begin the construction process right away (and would include market-rate condos and a community facility, but no affordable housing), and one that would have to go through the city's land-use review process—and Fortis has intimated that it would rather move forward with the ULURP plan, since it would include low-income apartments, retail, and other mixed-use buildings.

Politico spoke with some of the various players, and the NIMBY side hasn't budged from the position it's always held—they're not anti-development, but they believe that Fortis doesn't seem to care what the community wants. "There are ways to mitigate the density and how that could come into this corner of the neighborhood and actually not be so bad if they would do some planning," Amy Breedlove, president of the Cobble Hill Association (one of the main opponents), told Politico. "And without that planning, everything that we've seen from Fortis is, as we believe, very destructive to the community."

Fortis, meanwhile, maintains that it has too considered the community's concerns, and that the ULURP plan is "reflective of what the broader community asked for: a new public school, affordable housing, increased park space and a design that respects the neighborhood's historic character," according to James Yolles, a spokesman for the firm. But, he said, "we're prepared to move forward with [the as-of-right plan] in the near future if it seems like there's no path forward for a rezoning."

City Councilman Brad Lander, who has been one of the plan's main opponents, told Politico that with significant changes to the rezoning plan, he might be swayed to oblige with it but for now, he along with the Cobble Hill Association, remains unconvinced. "I think the ball is in Fortis' court is what I would say." And now, we wait to see what happens with this embattled site.