MANHATTAN – Despite strong opposition from Community Board 8, Councilmen Keith Powers and Ben Kallos, Borough President Gale Brewer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as well as hundreds of neighbors, the controversial plan to build a more than 300 foot tall high-rise in the middle of an Upper East Side block is steamrolling ahead— reaching an important milestone in its progress.
The New York Blood Center secured approval for their planned 334’ tower on East 67th street between First and Second Avenues — which requires a zoning change— from the city’s Planning Commission in an 8-2 vote Wednesday morning.
“I’m disappointed in the decision made by the NYC Planning Commission and I urge [the City Council] to make the changes to the application that I have called for,” Borough President Gale Brewer said in a statement.
“I believe that the Blood Center can still have a modern facility that is shorter and more contextual that meets their needs while respecting the neighborhood,” she added.
Opponents to the project say the bulky development will cast a shadow over the Julia Richman Educational Complex across the street and St. Catherine’s Park— shading the only green space in the area. If that weren’t enough, they also claim the tower will flood the area with hundreds of thousands of square feet of unused office space.
As part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the planned development now heads to the City Council for review. The Council has 50 days to hold a public hearing and vote whether to approve the project, approve it with modifications or disapprove the project.
If the City Council does not make a decision within that time frame, the project will move on to Mayor de Blasio for approval.
For it’s part, New York Blood Center says via its website that it “cannot expand its life-saving research and development due to the physical limitations of its current facility, which was originally built in 1930.”
“This is exactly the project our city needs right now,” said the Blood Center’s Executive Vice President Rob Purvis, adding that the tower “will position New York to be a life science innovation hub, create jobs, stimulate billions in economic output annually, and open career opportunities for local students and young professionals.”