In both politics and business, they say, it’s about who you know. Fortis Property Group is taking no chances in its effort to rezone the site of the former Long Island College Hospital, hiring two firms with close ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Capalino+Company will handle lobbying for the project while public relations firm Hilltop Public Solutions will manage community outreach, as part of the developer’s effort to negotiate with the city and the community over the details of its massive project at the site.
Both firms, as well as many of their personnel, were involved in de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign. Both companies’ CEOs, James Capalino of Capalino and Nick Baldick of Hilltop, have continued to advise de Blasio throughout his term, Capital New York reported.
Fortis has filed plans to build a 44-story luxury condo at the Cobble Hill site. But the firm has met with sharp opposition in the community, with residents calling the planned structure too large and too close to the center of the neighborhood.
Fortis has a right-to-build, but has nonetheless engaged the debate, promising to move and reduce the size of the main tower if the city will rezone the site to allow for a greater amount of market-rate residential space. Fortis has also said it would rehabilitate parkland and build a public school in the area. In prepared remarks, de Blasio has hinted that he favors a rezoning. He had protested the closing of the hospital in his mayoral campaign.
The former LICH site is now home to a stand-alone emergency room facility run by NYU-Langone medical center. [Capital NY] – Ariel Stulberg