Fight Erupts Over New York Blood Center’s Manhattan Building



While New York is in its name, the Blood Center expanded beyond the city long ago and now operates in more than a dozen states, running a collection of blood banks and laboratories mostly in the Northeast and the Midwest. The center supplies about 80 percent of the blood in New York City hospitals and reported more than $592 million in total revenue in 2019, including donations.

A major concession by the developers — trimming the building’s height to 233 feet from 334 feet, which would reduce some of the shadows — won over some critics. The Blood Center also agreed to give $3.6 million to the nearby park, St. Catherine’s, which would also get another $7 million from the city for upgrades. The center would also provide $2 million to the Julia Richman Education Complex, a public school across the street.

“Our vision for a state-of-the-art life science facility will not only ensure the nonprofit Blood Center continues to provide safe, affordable blood services to the region’s hospitals,” Rob Purvis, an executive at the New York Blood Center, said in a statement, “but enable the center to significantly expand its lifesaving research on Covid-19 and blood-related diseases in collaboration with institutions and biotechnology partners all under the same roof.”

Rafael Salamanca, a Bronx council member who rallied fellow members in support of the project, said the Blood Center’s expansion was crucial.

“I find it irresponsible to vote no on this application because you have a community complaining about shadows,” Mr. Salamanca said. “I cannot consciously vote no on a project that does sickle-cell research, stores blood of New Yorkers.”

Gale Brewer, who as the Manhattan borough president reviewed the proposal and recommended against city approval, said that the height reduction led her to change her mind. Ms. Brewer, who has waged many battles during her tenure against high-rise developments, said this fight had become extraordinarily bitter.

“There was so much ugliness,” said Ms. Brewer, who won a seat on the City Council in the November election. “They said it was the rich, that they always complain.”



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