This developer isn’t building amity with its Amity Street neighbors!
Cobble Hillers tore into the builder constructing a seven-structure complex on the old Long Island College Hospital campus for proposing to erect a brick wall along Amity Street that will partially block one of its forthcoming high-rises to passersby.
“The least you could do is try to make this barricade inviting to the community,” said Alex Harris, who lives on Hicks Street between Kane and Degraw streets. “This feels extremely exclusive to walk by everyday.”
Brooklyn-based real-estate firm Fortis Property Group proposed building the nine-foot-high barrier along roughly 50 feet of Amity Street sidewalk between Henry and Clinton streets, to enclose the private courtyard with a swimming-pool and garden it plans to build for residents of its 15-story condo tower on Henry Street between Pacific and Amity Streets, dubbed 5 River Park.
That tower is one of the seven buildings Fortis is currently constructing as part of its controversial River Park complex — which it is erecting under existing zoning law after abandoning an attempt to rezone the site to make way for an even larger development in 2016. And the proposed wall surrounding the high-rise, which must be approved by the community board and the Landmarks Preservation Commission because the bit of Amity Street it would run along sits within the protected Cobble Hill Historic District, would seamlessly blend in with its surroundings, the architect of 5 River Park told members of the civic panel.
“We believe it’s a contextual wall that reflects the character of the neighborhood,” Douglas Romines said during an Oct. 25 meeting of Community Board 6’s Land Use and Landmarks Committee.
But many of the locals, along with some Cobble Hill pols, strongly disagreed, and the local Assemblywoman accused the developer of trying to sneak its barricade past the board by first seeking approval from the landmarks commission, so that it would be harder for the panel to reject the proposal.
“The developer went first to LPC with the hope it would simply be able to get approval without going through the community board,” said Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Cobble Hill). “It is unacceptable.”
Simon and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Cobble Hill) issued statements urging the committee to pan Fortis’s request — which it did nearly unanimously, along with demanding the builder restore a wrought-iron fence on the property that its workers allegedly ripped out without permission, and requesting the city look over the developer’s plans for its on-site pool.
And any future wall that Fortis may propose should be opaque enough to let passersby peek in from the sidewalk, instead of entirely blocking neighbors’ view, according to Lander.
“If something’s going to be added to the community, I think something that shows the garden might be great — at least provide visual enhancement,” he said.
Following the meeting, Fortis bigwigs pulled their current wall proposal, and now plan to revise it using the board’s feedback, according to a rep.
“We withdrew the application and are working with the community to reissue a design with community input,” said Dale Laplace.
And two days before the locals clashed with the developer over the barricade it wants to put outside 5 River Park, Fortis honchos hosted a swanky liquor-soaked party on Amity Street featuring two bars, hors d’oeuvres, and a live band to launch sales of the condos inside the luxury tower — the first to rise within the builder’s larger complex rising on land by Atlantic Avenue and Hicks, Columbia, and Pacific streets.