What is Fortis Proposing?
What is Fortis Proposing to do with the LICH site?
It is no surprise that for the remainder of the property, beyond the required health care facility, Fortis (paying $240 million for the site) aims to maximize its ability to build market-rate housing.
While they have not yet put plans or drawings up on the web, Fortis made a public presentation at the Cobble Hill Association’s Spring Meeting on May 18, 2015, summarizing their intentions. You can read about it, and see some of the images they presented, in articles in the Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn Paper, Curbed, and DNAInfo. What we know is summarized below.
At the May 18th meeting, Fortis presented an outline of what they would build “as-of-right:” a 44-story tower on Pacific Street (between Henry & Hicks), a 19-story building on Hicks (between Pacific and Amity), and a 14-story building on the site of the current parking garage (at Atlantic & Hicks). They would convert the existing “H-shaped” Henry Street building (the original hospital) and the Polhemus Building to housing. And they would also build new 11- and 14-story buildings around the LICH park on the east side of Henry Street (between Pacific and Amity).
All told it would be 542,000 square feet of market-rate residential housing (about 400 market-rate units).
Some community members have raised the possibility that Fortis is exaggerating this proposal, presenting plans that are worse than what they would really do, in order to pressure people into supporting a rezoning.
To get a clear sense of what is allowed “as-of-right,” I asked they City Council’s Land Use Division to prepare a detailed analysis. Their presentation is available here. They also concluded that, under height factor development, Fortis could build over 542,000 square feet of residential housing, in very tall buildings.
Rezoning (or “ULURP”) Option
Alternatively, Fortis is also interested in proposing a rezoning (sometimes called the “ULURP” option, for NYC’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) that would double the number of residential units, include affordable housing units and space for a public school, and potentially allow for a somewhat better urban design.
Under a rezoning, they would still build a 40-story tower, but on the site of the current parking garage (it would not be allowed there “as-of-right”) rather than mid-block on Pacific Street. They would also build two 20- to 30-story towers on Hicks between Pacific and Amity, a 16-story tower on Pacific and Henry Streets, and a six story addition on top of the H-shaped Henry Street Building.
Under this proposal, their buildings along Henry and Amity would better match the adjoining context. They would convert the landmarked Polhemus Building for residential use (as under the as-of-right plan), include seven townhouses along the south side of Amity Street, and not build new buildings east of Henry Street (along Pacific and Amity).
Fortis indicated that under this proposal, they would about double the number of residential units, and include 20% affordable housing: approximately 892,000 square feet of market-rate housing (600 units), and 223,000 square feet of affordable housing (220 units).
Under a rezoning, they would consider including a public school (the details of which would need to be developed). They proposed an increase in open space by consolidating the smaller playground at Pacific and Henry into a larger park (27,850 square feet) on the east side of Henry, between Pacific and Amity.
Fortis also showed images of a pedestrian shopping-street along Pacific Street, between Hicks and Henry (which drew a largely negative reaction from the crowd at the Cobble Hill Association's Spring Meeting on May 18th, who largely indicated a preference to keep retail space on Atlantic Avenue).
Fortis indicated a willingness to discuss, provide further details, and potentially modify various elements of their rezoning proposal.