Cobble Hill really wants to keep its hospital. Ever since the State University of New York trustees voted unanimously to close the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, local politicians—and just about everyone else involved—have been desperately trying to keep the medical center open. A group of unions and doctors won a temporary reprieve, but the prognosis for the hospital is not good.
SUNY chairman H. Carl McCall claims that “There is no plan whatsoever with respect to real estate,” but local councilman Brad Lander, who represents the 39th District, snaking from Cobble Hill to Borough Park, thinks otherwise.
“It’s hard to pin down motives,” Mr. Lander told Crain’s New York Business, “but it doesn’t seem like all the avenues have been explored to make this facility profitable and have it continue to function as a hospital.” He estimated the value of the real estate at $500 million, if converted to housing, as is allowed by the current zoning designation.
For the oldest building on Fifth Avenue between 59th and 110th streets, No. 815 isn’t much to look at. The original Italianate design, erected in 1870-71, was disfigured when Verna Scott Cushman hired architects Murgatroyd & Ogden to ”upgrade” the structure in 1923, and it’s never been quite the same since. An Upper East Side historic district designation report written in 1981 describes the present style as “none.”
The front stoop was removed and the brownstone facing on the floors above the parlor level were removed. And even the bottom two floors didn’t emerge unscathed—an earlier photo shows a pediment above the front door which seems to have been removed.
All of this, plus the $32 million price tag, suggests that Brazilian developer JHSF Participações expects to be able to raze the structure, despite its inclusion in the Upper East Side Historic District.
Well, they may not be the most popular historic sites in the city—after all, not everyone can be the Brooklyn Public Library, Congregation Beth Elohim, the New York Botanical Garden, or the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum—but 16 other historic sites will still get some c-notes through the Partners in Preservation program.
Last month, the program doled out $905,000 to the four historic sites that best caught the public’s imagination, winning the most popular votes in a battle that spanned five boroughs and 40 sites.
Today, another $2.1 million in grants was awarded for 16 preservation projects selected by an advisory committee and preservation leaders.