LICH Developer Plans Two 50-Story Towers in Cobble Hill to Offset Cost of Hospital

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The firm chosen to develop the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill is planning to build two 50-story residential towers to offset the cost of keeping a full-service hospital there, according to a report in Crain’s. The height would certainly be taller than anything seen before in the neighborhood, where LICH buildings currently rise to about 12 stories.

The report was based on documents and emails from a financial advisor to the project, said Crain’s. Brooklyn Health Partners downplayed but did not deny the report, saying that it is not yet “focused” on the residential part of the development. ”BHP’s sole focus is closing with the State University of New York so it can begin to provide medical services to the citizens of Brooklyn, as promised,” said a spokeswoman. “When the time is appropriate, we will sit with the various community stakeholders and discuss how we will build a 21st-century collaborative product that all of New York can be proud of.”

The firm envisions a 40- to 50-story condo tower on the site of a large parking garage on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street, pictured above, according to the story. The building would be 20 percent affordable. There would also be a rental tower, 40 percent of which would be affordable. “We are spoon-feeding our deal to de Blasio,” said one of the partners in an email about the proposal. The proposal seen by the public during the bid process did not specify the height of the residential buildings, but said merely that there would be 1,000 units built on open space and the garage site.

To secure the deal, Brooklyn Health Partners must deliver a nonrefundable deposit of $25,000,000 by May 4, “or the state will negotiate with the Peebles group,” said Crain’s.

50-Story Towers Eyed for LICH Site [Crain's]

40 Comment

  • Oh, great. That’ll blend into the neighborhood really well.

  • I can only assume that by proposing something as ridiculous as a 50 story tower, the developers are hoping to stir up the neighborhood and then as a compromise they will propose something more reasonable. Then they will tell the community that the’ll be happy to build at a lower density but there won’t be enough juice in the deal to keep the hospital open.

  • I saw an article but I can’t remember where exactly that BHP is already walking back the 50 story towers. It may have been in the Brooklyn Eagle.
    What is wrong with fifty story towers? I thought density would bring down prices. You know, supply and demand. ; )

  • I actually don’t have any problem with a high rise development in this particular spot. Of all of Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights, it’s got to be one of the best spots for an out of context development (because what context is right there? The BQE?)

    But 50 stories seems a bit much for this spot, ~half a mile from the nearest subway. I agree that this is much like fare/toll hikes, where an astronomical proposal is trotted out, with no intention of EVER coming to fruition, just so they can reduce it to 20 stories later, and everyone looks like they compromised…but 20 stories was the plan all along, they just can’t come out and say that first.

  • How do they subsidize condos?

  • What’s wrong with 50 stories here? Housing density is a good thing, and its greener. The same folks in this neighborhood who are for these things will just should NIMBY.

    • Cleo

      If it helps pay for the park, that’s a good thing. But it is important to keep things as contextual as possible in neighborhoods. Think about the horrors of urban renewal. It isn’t about NIMBY in my view, it is about an enlightened long term view of building contextually.

      • The problems with urban renewal were never about “contextualism” (which is just a NIMBY rebrand anyway), and trying to paint them that way is a sign no one has learned. They were about dislocation of the local population, failure of new developments to interface with the street grid, focusing on *decreasing* density (yes, urban renewal almost always decreased density by replacing wall-to-wall housing with towers in the park–and that was always a stated goal), etc.

        There is literally no reason whatsoever why (for example) building a 50-story tower on top of an existing brownstone should cause the problems of “urban renewal”, and certainly the 1950s are not a counterargument to such a proposal, whatever counterarguments there may be (though count me a skeptic in most cases). The street front is what’s important for community creation and maintenance, not what’s above it.

    • There’s a difference between creating a smart, green city with housing density and sticking two 50 story buildings squashed between a major expressway, the only hospital in the area, and a neighborhood of mostly 4-story buildings. All a half a mile from the nearest subway (and that subway being the F/G…).

      It sounds dumb, but if you really stop and think for a second about what two 50 story towers would look like there, it’s almost laughable. I think that they definitely have more leeway with the design and can be more creative with their approach, as its location is pretty unappealing and it’s not like they have to keep in the design aesthetic of the BQE. But they can do better than this.

  • Actually not a great spot for density as it isnt really all that close to mass transit; but I do admire the strategy of dividing and conquering the never happy activists……You want your Hospital, you get density, you dont want density you dont get the hospital – brilliant!

  • In other words: “We have no intention of keeping the hospital open”. I cannot imagine that 50 story towers are going to get the green light. And the poor developer just can’t justify keeping the hospital going without them, so….

    • minard

      what makes you think they won’t get the green light?
      the towers being planned and going up in Manhattan are twice that height now.

      • because there is nothing remotely close to that height anywhere in the vicinity. As someone else pointed out, it’s a neighborhood consisting primarily of 4 story buildings. The tallest buildings in Brooklyn Heights are, what? 25 stories? 50 is utterly incongruous in this location.

  • minard

    Tall towers here make a certain amount of sense. They are not in the historic district, so please, anyone opposing them do not do so under the guise of “historic preservation” because it ain’t that.

  • This is INSANE. THE HOSPITAL NEEDS TO BE SHUT DOWN (the CIty and state have NO RIGHT to tell the owners what they can do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a normal building needs to be developed. And it shuld be 10% for the poor and the rest at market rate. This City is turning into a crazy loonybin!

    • slopefarm

      “(the CIty and state have NO RIGHT to tell the owners what they can do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)”

      That is simply incorrect. The NYS Dept of Health must approve closures of hospitals licensed by the State. The State certainly has a say over what SUNY — still the hospital’s owner — does. And the State’s decisions and actions can be subject to judicial review. And, to the extent the redevelopment proposal requires a zoning change or variance, the City has to authorize that. What any individual thinks should happen is a much different question than what “right” the City and/or State has in this situation.

  • CGar

    “the strategy of dividing and conquering the never happy activists”

    I’ve never been a protester or an activist. And I’ve never been a NIMBYist. 2 50-story towers here? For that, I’ll protest actively.

  • Arkady

    Maybe they’ll just stack 50 stories of shipping containers which would be in a ‘transit’ context & thereby fit in w/ the ambiance of the BQE.

  • hairyone

    How can you say it’s not near public transportation? Why, it’s right up the block from that trolley that runs between Red Hook and Williamsburg, and just at the corner of the first stop on that tunnel service that Bob Diamond’s fixing up. Right?? ;-)

  • Hicks Street has alway been kind of a sketchy area. Most people in the neighborhood avoid it as much as possible.

  • So the market rate for offsetting the cost of running a hospital of this size, without taking a loss, is 600 market rate apts and 400 subsidized apts? Interesting. I assume they are all for rent. Contextual neighborhood issues aside, this is potentially an interesting case study in actually running a hospital development for profit. So what do you want community? Hospital+Density or No Hospital+Contextual Development. Looks like it’s one or the other.

    In the end, these towers and the two future ones across Atlantic in BBP should make this end of BK pretty active. These towers subsidize a hospital, those towers subsidize a public park. Interesting public/private partnerships shaping the future here.

  • Feeling heartbroken — we could have a 50 story building at the LICH site?, and now that the agreement that would have kept the Pier 6 tower similar to the height of the other buildings currently underway in Brooklyn Bridge Park (Pierhouse/TollBrothers) has expired, we could have 30 story lux condos on Pier 6 too?

    Doesn’t it seem like the southern part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park area isn’t being treated as well as the northern part of the park was? Previously “tasteful” now gone awry?

    There are lots of people who live near the Atlantic entrance to the Park (all those neighborhoods with no parks at all) and they need green space too?

    With so much change possible in one area, it seems like a really thoughtful, joint- impact, community involved process is needed?

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/04/10/de_blasio_asked_to_halt_possible_residential_towers_at_pier_6.php