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LICH Condo Developer Seeks Local Support for Rezoning Plan

By Nikhita Venugopal | November 9, 2015 12:05pm
 The survey asks residents to support the rezoning plan for Long Island College Hospital's site.
The survey asks residents to support the rezoning plan for Long Island College Hospital's site.
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Fortis Property Group

COBBLE HILL — Developer Fortis Property Group has been seeking support for its plan to rezone the Long Island College Hospital site in order to build high-rise towers with market-rate and affordable housing, officials said. 

In the past 10 days, 1,008 residents have signed on to support the contentious plan to redevelop the former hospital, a Fortis spokesman said Sunday night. 

The developer has been sending field representatives to hand out surveys to locals within a six square-block radius around LICH, which is bound by Atlantic Avenue, Henry Street, Congress Street and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. They also spoke to locals along Fourth Avenue during the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1.

The survey asks residents to sign a petition to "Make Your Voice Heard."

"I want a new public school, more affordable housing, community input, and increased park space. That is why I support the Rezoning Plan, also known as the ULURP plan, for the redevelopment of LICH," it reads.

The reason behind Fortis' on-the-street surveying is to "hear from the broader community" who may not be able to make it to public and private meetings organized by City Councilman Brad Lander.  

"Throughout Council Member Lander's working group process, we’ve wanted to hear from the broader community – including those who can’t always make it to meetings – so we decided to go straight to Cobble Hill," Fortis spokesman James Yolles said in a statement. 

Lander is separately asking for local feedback on the proposals, he said on his website Friday. 

Fortis has two proposals on the table for the former hospital site, one is an "as-of right" plan that can be built without formal permission from the city.

The second plan, which Fortis is advocating for, would require a property rezoning through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), with approvals from the community, borough president and City Council. 

NYU Langone Medical Center will also operate a new healthcare facility and freestanding emergency room in both scenarios.  

Under the bigger rezoning plan, the developer has promised to build 225,000 square feet of affordable housing, a public school and local retail space. Those features would not be included in the as-of-right plan.

Through a rezoning, Fortis would nearly double the amount of residential square-footage being constructed, from roughly 528,000 in the as-of-right plan to 900,000 zoned square feet. 

Community members have pushed back against the proposals since learning about them over the summer. Both plans would bring high-rise towers and hundreds of new residents to Cobble Hill, causing a population explosion that critics say would overburden the neighborhood. 

The Cobble Hill Association, a local advocacy group that has been meeting privately with Fortis, Lander and local stakeholders to hash out the redevelopment, has voiced distrust in the developer's efforts to gain support. 

"We do not believe a consultancy firm paid for by the real-estate developer of the LICH site should presume to represent our community's opinions to our representatives. We are asking all residents of Cobble Hill and throughout South Brooklyn NOT TO RESPOND to Hilltop's solicitations," the Cobble Hill Association said on its website last week.

Fortis Property Group declined to comment on the Association's post.