Lander-ing a blow: Councilman won’t support LICH rezoning

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Prognosis negative!

Cobble Hill’s local councilman says he will oppose a developer’s bid to rezone the former Long Island College Hospital site to build a giant luxury housing complex — withholding a key vote the real estate outfit may need to get the proposal through the Council.

“The community doesn’t support this plan and neither do I,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D-Cobble Hill) at a meeting of civic group the Cobble Hill Association on Wednesday night.

The property’s new owner Fortis Property Group can still build a slightly-less-giant, less-lucrative luxury housing complex on the site — bounded by Atlantic Avenue and Pacific, Hicks and Henry streets — without the rezoning.

But with the change, it could build many more units — in exchange for which it is promising to also include space for a public school, some below-market-rate housing, and a design that fits in better with the historic neighborhood’s aesthetic.

Lander says he hates both plans, but knows he has to pick one, so he launched an online poll asking constituents which was “least bad,” and the numbers were clear — 42 percent of the 427 respondents said they would rather tolerate fewer units without the perks, versus 22 percent who said the rezoning plan was more bearable. The remaining voters simply couldn’t pick the lesser of two evils.

Council members typically side with the local member when deciding on land-use issues, so Lander’s opposition could prove fatal to its rezoning hopes.

But Fortis is putting up a formidable fight. The developer has hired two separate public relations firms with strong ties to Mayor DeBlasio to lobby pols and locals to support the plan.

The firm has been targeting locals with Facebook ads saying it is “crafting a rezoning plan for Cobble Hill that would offer a range of community services.” And residents say paid canvassers have recently begun approaching them on the phone and in public areas like Cobble Hill Park, emphasizing the perks while downplaying the size of the buildings — which neighbors say is misleading.

“They were asking people if they want a new school, affordable housing, and more park space,” said Dorothy Segal, who has lived in Cobble Hill for 38 years. “What do you think they’re going to say?”

But Fortis says it has collected more than 1,300 signatures in favor of the rezoning via its stumping, which it claims proves Lander and the civic association members are out of touch with local opinion.

“Unfortunat­ely Wednesday’s meeting was not reflective of broader community sentiment, especially among current and future public school parents,” said spokesman James Yolles.

But the developer’s most important supporter lives in Manhattan. Mayor DeBlasio — who just two years ago got himself arrested protesting the closure of the hospital — supports the rezoning plan as part of his campaign to build more below-market housing around the city.

Lander is optimistic that residents’ anger will change Hizzoner’s tune, however.

“If Fortis continues with their current rezoning proposal and seeks to certify it despite the community’s opposition, I would hope the mayor would say no,” he said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I don't know why any city council member in a less wealthy area would support Brad Lander's effort to push gentrification on them instead of absorbing his district's share.

I also don't know why someone who represents over 150,000 people is making decisions based on online polls with 400 responses.
Nov. 20, 2015, 3:42 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Good call Mr. Landers. Let's stop giving away everything the public can give to developers, who rarely meet their promises anyway. The sale of this property was corrupt; let the developer make less and bleed their dreams of taking public assets and running away with a windfall profit.
Nov. 20, 2015, 10:26 am
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
We all screamed at Chris Quinn for being a real estate industry sellout when she took a dive for Bloomberg's 3rd term. We showed her, didn't we? Isn't it funny how we now have a Mayor who's even more firmly in the pockets of the same interests? OK, it's not so funny.
Nov. 20, 2015, 11:20 am
Small biz owner from Park Slope says:
Lander is a shrill to REBNY. Thats why he wont support the #Save NY cause.
Nov. 21, 2015, 12:21 am
Rob from Park Slope says:
Brad Lander is one of the very worst council members in the last 25 years. This guy is in the pocket of the Real Estate industry, but the bigger problem is that he is just bad at what he does. He's a lightweight, a nitwit, and completely unfit for this position. Thank goodness there is a groundswell of activity underway to challenge and defeat him. He has failed the community at every level and by every measure.
Nov. 21, 2015, 4:18 am
Marsha Rimler from Brooklyn says:
Brad Lander is all about Brad Lander. I consider him
DeBlasio 2.0.
He is a man of outsized ambition who believes in nothing but his own political career
Nov. 23, 2015, 5:58 am
TOM from Brooklyn says:
Nov. 25, 2015, 8:42 pm
Seth from Cobble Hill says:
Do you realize that, at 40 stories, one of the two proposed towers will be twice the height of 4 MetroTech. With the second tower at 20 stories, the sun will be blocked in the PM across the area past Court Street.

There must be a way to stop this potential catastrophe. Are the developers so greedy as to disregard the lives of so many people just to make a buck?

This is truly a very sad situation.
Nov. 26, 2015, 11:49 pm

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