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UES Community in Battle Over 16-Story Glass Tower for NY Blood Center Building

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Edited by: TJVJNews.com

Seems like a fight is brewing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and this time the target of the community’s ire is a proposed 16-story glass tower that is scheduled to built.

According to the NY Times, the focus of the battle is the approval of the city that the New York Blood Center is seeking to build a 16-story glass tower in place of the three story brick building that it now occupies in the neighborhood. The  New York Blood Center is one of the country’s largest independent blood suppliers, according to the NYT report. and the proposed building on East 67th Street will be constructed with a developer from Boston, known as Longfellow Real Estate Partners. The NYBC will ostensibly occupy the first five floors, according to the NYT report and the higher floors would possibly be leased to life science companies.

The reason that UES community groups and local elected officials oppose the proposed plan is because they are of the belief that a building of that height on a block with low-rise residential dwellings would cast shadows on a park across the street, as was reported by the NYT.

Moreover, it appears that the city desires this structure to be built as they have proposed a 25 year tax incentive to the developers. This could go way beyond $450 million, as was reported by the Times based on an analysis of the documents that they conducted.

Tax incentives of this magnitude in NYC are not common, according to the NYT report. Only a few recent developments have been offered this kind of incentive and they include Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan, not too far from the Javits Center.

This proposed building has been under scrutiny for over a year, as was reported by the NYT. The Times observed that this “reflects a deepening anti-development movement across the city over projects believed to offer few community benefits, particularly in its most politically active neighborhoods. Where once such fights were largely concentrated in more upscale neighborhoods, they have now spread citywide.”

In recent years, those opposed to such building projects have mounted large and raucous protests which are succeeded to stopping the proposed plans. Some projects that are protested against include affordable housing units which the city has a need for. Moreover, the powerful real estate industry is not used to resistance on such an organized level, according to the NYT report.

Despite community opposition, the NYT reported that prior to the proposal reaching the City Council in November for final approvals, members of the city who are not from the neighborhood pledged to advance the plan and a private deal was negotiated. This measure was quite unusual as it broke with the tradition of honoring the wishes of the local city council member who represents the area.

Those opposed to the Blood Center building include people of color who said that a vote against the project would hurt blacks and Latinos by eliminating opportunities for employment at various companies who would be interested in the new development. Because the construction industry came to a grinding halt throughout the coronavirus pandemic, members of labor unions have said that the project would create much needed jobs for those who have been out of work.

Those who stand in staunch opposition to the project have asserted that some city council members were swayed to support the project subsequent to a lobbyists sponsored weekend retreat in Puerto Rico, as was reported by the NYT.

The NYT reported that those opposed to the project “accused Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supports the development, of having a conflict of interest because of his outstanding debt to a law firm that also represents the Blood Center.” For his part, deBlasio said the allegations were “inappropriate, unfair.”

As the city continues to recover from the deleterious effects of the Covid pandemic on the economy, those in favor of the project have put forth a cogent argument that the Blood Center could possibly provide an economic injection into the city. They also explain that that such a building like the Blood Center could help New York morph into a national center for scientific research.

The NYT reported that “The Blood Center and the Boston developer, Longfellow Real Estate Partners, have spent about $1.6 million to lobby City Hall and Council members on the project since 2016, according to city records.”


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