Plans to expand New York Blood Center’s headquarters at 310 East 67th Street in Manhattan have drawn ire from Lenox Hill residents and Upper East Side community groups. The development calls for demolition of the center’s existing property and the construction of a new 16-story building.
Designed by Ennead Architects, the structure will top out at 334 feet and comprise just under 600,000 square feet. Before construction can break ground, the Department of City Planning must approve several zoning text amendments and special permits to increase allowable height, density, and the inclusion of commercial and laboratory use-types. An Environmental Impact Statement and a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) must also be completed before the project can proceed to determine the extent of impact on the surrounding neighborhood and public buy-in.
The building, referred to as Center East, is envisioned as an opportunity for the New York Blood Center to significantly expand its research facilities and to create spaces for life science startups, industry groups, and partner institutions. It is anticipated that the development will spur the creation of approximately 2,600 new jobs on site, an estimated 3,000 indirect jobs in the neighborhood, and a total new economic output of $1.1 billion annually.
Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, the lead community group in opposition of the project, fears that the project is out of context with the neighborhood and will cast undue shadows on surrounding parks and neighboring buildings. The group is also concerned that the headquarters will include pathogen research laboratories, which it claims presents “the greatest potential risk to public health” and could have “catastrophic consequences.”
Led by some of the brightest minds in transfusion medicine, epidemiology, hematology, infectious disease, and cell therapy, the center is confident that its impacts on New York City and the life sciences community will be largely positive and unattainable without the modernization project.
“The proposed renovations will turn the building into a state-of-the-art facility, becoming the heart of New York City’s life science innovation ecosystem and a key part of the city’s pandemic response infrastructure,” reads an official statement from the New York Blood Center. “Planned in partnership with Longfellow Real Estate Partners, this facility will create a collaborative ecosystem that furthers life-saving research, drug commercialization, and helps fuel economic growth in NYC.”
The project is now in pre-certification phases of ULURP. At this phase of development, it is unclear when the project could begin construction.