April 21, 2016, LICH (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg)
April 21, 2016, LICH. Photo by Robert Nickelsberg

Cobble Hill and Long Island College Hospital (LICH) share a long and storied history. Many Brooklyn residents can recall being treated or seeing their children treated at the hospital, and for more than 150 years, LICH was an integral part of the community. Unfortunately, as the world of hospitals changed, it became increasingly difficult for an independent hospital to continue operating without incurring major financial losses. When LICH was sold to the State University of New York downstate hospital system (SUNY) in 2011, there was reason to believe that the hospital’s fate might turn around. It was not to be. Soon after purchasing LICH, SUNY began plans to sell the site.

The CHA spent many months fighting the sale but was ultimately not able to stop it. In 2014, the site of the former hospital was sold to the Fortis Development corporation with the proviso that the emergency room of the hospital continue to function under the aegis of the NYU Langone hospital system. The closing of the hospital and the sale of the property were controversial and widely covered in the press.


In the spring of 2014, Fortis presented the Cobble Hill community with two development plans for the site. One, the so-called ‘As of Right’ (AOR) could be built under the existing zoning of the site and would contain approximately 790,000 square feet of market rate housing. The second plan, the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) would increase the square footage to 1.4 million but would contain affordable housing and a site for a school.

Both plans include towers as high as forty stories. After much discussion with the community, the CHA came to the conclusion that neither plan was acceptable to the traditional, low-rise brownstone environment that abuts the site. After conducting their own research, our elected officials supported the community’s decision. For many months, the community was kept in that dark as to whether Fortis would pursue the ULURP or the AOR. On November 3, 2016 Fortis announced it would pursue the AOR plan but did not release any details about what the plan would look like. The CHA remains committed to working with its new neighbors to create a welcoming environment.