MANHATTAN – After a more than six-hour long public hearing featuring tough questions, answers and testimony from all sides, a City Council subcommittee ended today’s hearing on the controversial plan to rezone the New York Blood Center’s property on East 67th Street between First and Second Avenue on the Upper East Side– in order to build a sprawling office tower and bio-medical sciences campus at the site– with a smaller project to mull over.
Opponents have said the nearly 600,000 square foot 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.
Today, it was revealed to the Council by the Blood Center that the building’s height would be reduced by fifty feet from its initial 334’ height to 284’— a height they claim would not cast shadows before 3:00 pm most of the year.
Beyond the project’s height, some critics worry an influx of 2,500 office workers will turn a quiet block into congestion nightmare with a flood of new foot and vehicular traffic near the site.
The New York Blood Center secured approval for the tower from the city’s Planning Commission in September, despite opposition from Community Board 8, both councilmen representing the Upper East Side and the Borough President— all say the a tower mid-block would be bad for the neighborhood.
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The New York Blood Center maintains it needs the new tower and “cannot expand its life-saving research and development due to the physical limitations of its current facility, which was originally built in 1930.”
Under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the City Council must vote whether to approve the project, approve it with modifications or disapprove the project– if it does nothing, the Planning Commission’s decision will be final.
If approved by the council, the proposal would head to the Mayor, who would have five days to veto the rezoning.