Latest Curveball in Ongoing LICH Controversy: Developer Fortis Proposes “Mega-Dorms”

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    Former LICH building the Polhemus Memorial Clinic at 350 Henry Street in Cobble Hill

    The twists and turns in one of Brooklyn’s biggest real estate controversies continue, as developers, locals, and the city struggle over the former Long Island College Hospital site.

    Developer Fortis Property Group last week said it is considering building a 260,000-square-foot dorm for hundreds of students on Amity and Hicks Street as part of its development of the former hospital site. The dorms would be considered “community space” and could be built as-of-right (and thus not needing public input) in case Fortis does not receive permission to rezone the area for its preferred development arrangement.

    Is LICH developer Fortis trying to scare the public into supporting its controversial rezoning proposal or does it mean it?

    Fortis has proposed two scenarios, neither of which the local community — most loudly the Cobble Hill Association — is in favor of.

    The as-of-right plan involves building apartment towers in the center of the neighborhood, where it would be most out-of-context with low-lying residential buildings. The second plan, which requires public input and city approval for a rezoning, would add significantly more units but locate the towers farther away. It would also include affordable units, a school, and parkland.

    The new proposal to construct housing for hundreds of college students adds insult to injury for the beleagured Cobble Hill Association, which fought tooth and nail against Fortis’ redevelopment of LICH.

    Local residents appeared to be leaning toward the as-of-right option on the grounds that it would add fewer units and residents to the area. But a dorm would add more density.

    Area representative Councilman Brad Lander is also in opposition to the new proposal, calling it a “mega-dorm” that is a poor use of area real estate, according to Politico.

    Mayor de Blasio strongly opposed the development when he was running for election. Since then, he has said not a peep on the subject — until now. Mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell told Politico de Blasio supports the creation of below-market units on the site, which strongly implies he would back a rezoning of the site.

    [Source: Politico NY | Photo: Hannah Frishberg]

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