The all-powerful market has spoken, though, and it has quashed those housing plans. “We have decided to move forward with an as-of-right redevelopment plan for the LICH site,” Fortis president Joel Kestenbaum told Politico. “Based on the high demand for community facility space at this premier location, timing, and other development factors, an as-of-right redevelopment is the most profitable.”
Right now, an NYU Langone–operated medical facility occupies the site, and a smaller facility will be included in the redevelopment under the same operators.
When the hospital closed in 2014, the mayor’s office pushed to rezone the site to allow for denser development: Plans called for moving the tallest proposed tower away from the low- and mid-rise residential neighborhood and closer to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which slices through Cobble Hill’s western edge. Councilmember Brad Lander, whose district includes the LICH site, was skeptical of the density increase inherent in the rezoning. Lander would consider legal action if the development plan consists of a 35- and a 14-story tower, which the councilmember called “obnoxious” and “hideous.” Fortis is still nailing down details of the conversion, though plans are said to include retail, a school, and green space.
The hospital deal is one of many sites being studied by the U.S. attorney’s office as part of its investigation into the mayor’s fundraising practices and allegations of pay-to-play deals centered on real estate.