The silent treatment: LICH talks at standstill nine months after DeBlasio tries to resuscitate

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Negotiations have flatlined between Cobble Hill residents, local pols, the city, and the developer of the controversial plan to erect luxury housing towers on the former Long Island College Hospital site, and they aren’t any closer to reaching a compromise the community can support since they all last met nine months ago, according to a local civic group leader.

“We haven’t spoken to Fortis [Property Group] directly since January at City Hall other than to discuss with them the maintenance and upkeep of the parks and playgrounds and the sites,” said Amy Breedlove, president of the Cobble Hill Association, which was representing residents in the discussions.

The various parties began peace talks after Fortis unveiled its designs for glassy high-rises on the site — bounded by Atlantic Avenue and Hicks, Henry, and Amity streets — in May last year, horrifying residents who think it will stick out like a sore thumb in the low-rise historic ’hood and overload local infrastructure with too many people.

Fortis’s honchos could just go ahead and erect towers without the community’s blessing, but they want to rezone the land to allow for bulkier buildings. That will require Council’s approval, and local Councilman Brad Lander (D–Cobble Hill) — whose position will set the tone for most other reps — has pledged that he won’t support a rezoning until the community does.

If they can’t secure the Lander’s or locals’ backing soon, they may just erect what they’re able to without Council’s okay — which would still include two housing towers of up to 35 stories — a Fortis spokesman told Politico last month.

Lander said he hasn’t heard from Fortis in weeks and has no updates on where the talks stand.

In return for locals’ support on the bulkier building, Fortis has been offering to include below-market housing, space for a school, and more parkland on the properties — while threatening to use a building loophole to add an 800-bed college dorm to the property if they can’t rezone — but that hasn’t been enough to win the residents over.

The developer presented Lander with a revised plan in July, according to Breedlove, but the proposal was still too large, out of place, and didn’t include enough sweeteners to secure her group’s endorsement.

“There are issues regarding where things are placed and how much bulk and mass are next to the historic district,” she said.

Cobble Hill Association members want space for underground deliveries, more parkland, more open pedestrian corridors, and street plazas, she said.

Mayor DeBlasio had been trying to keep the discussions alive last year, fearing the loss of below-market housing in the project, and City Hall is still meeting regularly with the civic group — though Breedlove said their conversations aren’t really making any headway.

“There is a feeling that we’re being heard at this point, but I wouldn’t say they’re very productive because we’re not really getting anywhere,” she said.

The delays come amid a federal probe into the mayor’s involvement into the sale of the hospital. DeBlasio — who staunchly opposed the sale prior to taking office — is close pals with Fortis’s lobbyist James Capalino, and rival developer Don Peebles claims DeBlasio asked him to donate $20,000 to his private Campaign for One New York promotional fund when he was bidding for the site.

A City Hall rep said it is meeting with all of the players regularly, but refused to say how often or clarify the content of the conversations.

“We continue to work to bring together the community, officials and the developer to reach a plan that serves Cobble Hill’s needs,” said mayoral spokeswoman Melissa Grace. “There are regular conversations underway.”

Fortis declined to comment.

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

Hunter from Sunset Park says:
If De Blasio is your advocate, you might as well give up. The man is all hot air, and has the poison touch. Anything he gets near to turns into a huge mess (unless he can personally profit from it - then he'll do something to put money in his own pockets).
Sept. 19, 2016, 3:51 am
Wally from Park Slope says:
What does one expect when dealing with De Blasio and Lander? De Blasio has proven he's corrupt, that the city is for sale, and that criminals have more rights than the victims.

With Brad Lander, we have an ambitious politician who is a left wing version of Trump: Votes himself a 50% raise, has privilege parking with his city council plates, wife's an executive with Planned Parenthood cause of who her husband is, helps fuel racial tensions, can be bought through political donations faster than Charlie Schumer and the Clintons, hates Israel - last week he accused Israel of occupying Gaza; Israel left Gaza which is now run by the terrorists Hamas - does Lander ever read a newspaper since Israel and all Jews left Gaza in 2005, and being the jerk Lander is, forced through the city council a nickel per shopping bag tax which will cost each consumer hundred of dollars, etc. Can't wait until next year to vote agains De Blasio and his lackey Lander. And for the first time, I'm voting for Republican and hope Trump wins and this country needs a new direction and change.
Sept. 19, 2016, 11:16 am
BrooklynDiva55 from East New York says:
Thank you Hunter & Wally-you're so correct. Right-on to my fabulous (former) Cobble Hill Family & Association for your support. Laid off from LICH 5/23/14 as E.D. Secretary for 27yrs, I still comment about it & the exceptionally wonderful community (near & far) and reporters who told our story, supported, marched, went to cout all to help keep us open. I am eternally greatful to you all. I miss you.
Sept. 19, 2016, 12:25 pm
Nancy Drew Jr from Brooklyn says:
Those who wish to lay some real blame and get to the crux of this, need to dig (along with Bharara) in Albany.

First-checkout the founder of Fortis developers: Kestenbaum

Then check out how subsidized Kestenbaum is as ODA Health Care

Then check out the relationship Kestenbum has with Cuomo: KESTENBAUMS/FORTIS/ODA

MOSHE- Jan 2014 $12,500

JOEL- November 2015 $5000

Pinning this on Brad Lander is not getting to the quid pro quo enabling of Fortis by SUNY in Albany-that's where it really begins & ends.
Sept. 19, 2016, 2:32 pm
BrooklynDiva55 from East New York says:
Thank you Nancy Drew Jr. for your research. The pieces are coming together much easier now. Very good job - Kudos!
Sept. 19, 2016, 7:53 pm
Beverly D from Red Hook/Carroll Gdns says:
800 bed dorm?? Get us back our LICH Hosp., drs and nurses. Why not?? A 800 bed for patients. Make space for ReOpen LICH

We are suffering with this horror of black veiled LICH. Sorrow sight. It's a black hole nightmare.

It's needed to get it back in limelight.
We miss LICH-we miss our valued doctors, nurses and staff. Distance, that everyone is
Traveling to go to their doctors who ha e moved out of the area. Labs and tests are at different locations depending on medic plans.

This was a twisted trick in supporting Fortis Developer and misleading all communities involved.
Sept. 20, 2016, 12:15 am
Jeremy from Prospect Heights says:
Am fairly certain Lander's salary history is modest compared to others.
Sept. 20, 2016, 1:36 am
BrooklynDiva55 from East New York says:
A big THANK YOU to the Brooklyn Paper - your Staff rocks!! Yes, Beverly D - bring LICH back! The only 'real' ones suffering are the fine people who used & depended on LICH that are now extremely inconvenienced by this political travesty. No good will come to those who do no good. Amen to that!
Sept. 20, 2016, 10:15 am
Wally from Park Slope says:
To Jeremy: Brad Lander's new salary is more than $140,000/year. And is his wife, an executive with Planned Parenthood, is most likely earning in the area of $200,000/year. Lander's salary is modest to whom: the 1% who he &* his fellow hypocrite progressives bash day and night?
To Nancy Drew Jr.: The more Brad Lander gets involved, the worse every situation gets. Let's examine the issue of the F Train Express - first Lander boarded the MTA plan to restore express service to help 99% of F train passengers; so with the green light from Lander, this plan went ahead. Then Lander changed his mind when 25 riders objected.
LICH should never have closed - it was mismanaged by its executors who were paid excessively, which no one, even Lander and De Blasio, have stated. There is no reason that this hospital can't be re-opened and made profitable under new management.

One more note about Brad Lander: In six months, when we all are going to be charged a nickel for each shopping bag which will cost everyone in NY at least $250/year more in our shopping bills, lets remember that it was Lander who was the driving force,
Lander is a good example why there should be term limits for our elected (in NY, its really, selected by the club house) leaders.
Sept. 20, 2016, 11:12 am
Timothy says:
So what's the plan? Are the Blue Dunes going to be built? Would they even function?

Didn't Lander not get a raise for a while, whereas as others both fresh on the scene and not consistently get salary hikes?
Sept. 20, 2016, 3:57 pm
susie says:
look into Ashley Thompson... fromerly chief of staff for Stephen Levin...currently in the employ ov Capalino
Sept. 21, 2016, 2:42 am
Brooklyn Man says:
To Wally: I'm no fan of Lander's at all; however I think you need to do some research regarding term limits as the council does have term limits.
Sept. 21, 2016, 7:44 am
Wally from Park Slope says:
To Timothy: Lander and his so called progressives who control the city council voted themselves a 32% pay increase this past January. While the average New Yorker is lucky he/she still has job, Lander and, acted like pigs not only in voting themselves this increase but this large amount. It is not ethical for office holders to vote themselves an instant pay hike - it should have gone into effect after the next election. If Lander and his fellow council hypocrites weren't happy earning $110,000 per year for a part time job, then let them all resign and work on a regular job from 8:30 - 5:30 in private industry. I would like to know if Lander's wife is really qualify for her executive job at Planned Parenthood or was she hired because she's married to a politician?

To Brooklyn Man: In 1995, the voters of the NYC approved in a vote to limit all city officials to 2 terms. In 2009, the city council, illegally, overturned the will of the people and decided that they can remain in office 3 terms. Seeing Brad Lander's stupid acts, there needs to be a one term limit on all city elected officials.
Sept. 21, 2016, 10:37 am
Ed from Windsor Terrace says:
We live in the greatest nation and there is no reason why hospitals are being closed. LICH needs to be reopened, not redeveloped to benefit the friends of De Blasio and Lander. Our health system has gotten worse under these alleged progressives. Obama care has made things worse. I was in Health Republic, which was a fair plan until it went broker due to lack of supervision from Cuomo's office. Now I am in Oscar, which unethically, reduced its network after I went on this plan. Unfortunately, I can't leave until January. For the upcoming year, Oscar, in effect, has told its subscribers in Brooklyn to get lost as it is reducing its network in Brooklyn to nothing. There will be no options for those in Brooklyn if one is seeking a plan which isn't a HMO - which requires a referral to see a specialist.
Brad Lander doesn't care about medical care or doing good for his constituents. However, Lander is more interested in having store owners charge us a nickel per cheap shopping bag than investigating Oscar and other health insurance plans. Since Hillary was on board with Obama care, I have no choice and will vote for Trump.
Sept. 21, 2016, 10:53 am

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