The Real Deal New York

Future of LICH site uncertain as negotiations slow to a crawl

Fortis not sure if it will just build as-of-right luxury condos
August 09, 2016 10:03AM

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From left: Fortis’ Louis Kestenbaum, Long Island College Hospital (credit: Fortis Property Group) and Bill de Blasio

The future of the Long Island College Hospital site is uncertain as negotiations between city officials and Fortis Property Group remain at a standstill.

Fortis TRData LogoTINY doesn’t need city approval to develop 529,000 square feet of market-rate housing at the Cobble Hill site, but there’s a potentially more lucrative option on the table. If the city were to rezone the site, an option backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the developer could build 900,000 square feet of housing, including affordable housing. But seven months after a meeting between city officials and the developer, Fortis is mulling whether or not it should try to convince City Councilman Brad Lander to support rezoning or if it should just move ahead with an as-of-right development, Politico reported.

Talks are further complicated by recent reports that federal authorities are investigating the sale of the site. Last month, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara began probing the mayor’s role in the deal. He subpoenaed the State University of New York, seeking all communication between City Hall and the school about the sale dating back to when de Blasio first took office, the New York Daily News reported.

The mayor had campaigned to keep the hospital open, but shortly after taking office, he made a deal with SUNY to keep healthcare services at the site, but not necessarily a full-fledged hospital.

Fortis, which hired lobbyist James Capalino to engage with City Hall aides, bought the site in 2014 for $240 million. The developer plans to demolish two buildings on the site and either build a luxury condo development or a series of apartment towers that would include affordable housing. [Politico] — Kathryn Brenzel