MANHATTAN – Hundreds of Upper East Siders and local elected officials took to the street to protest a proposed construction project critics say would destroy their neighborhood.
A coalition of politicians, parents and neighbors and neighborhood associations crowded together Sunday afternoon with signs declaring “Save the Sunshine” and “Fight for Light” in a bid to stop a development that would change character of the block forever, and possibly the city too.
At the heart of the fight is a planned 334 tower for the New York Blood Center on East 67th street between First and Second Avenues, which requires a zoning change for the development that size mid-block. Neighbors say the bulky sprawling development will shade the Julia Richman Educational Complex across the street and St. Catherines park, darkening the little green space in the area.
More than just a new Blood Center, opponents say the tower would become a sprawling campus that will flood the area with hundreds of thousands of square feet of unused office space.
“The last thing that this neighborhood needs is more vacant commercial space.” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney told the fired-up crowd. “To show just how ridiculous it is just walk down to Second—Third and Lexington Avenues— every other building is vacant.”
On Tuesday, Community Board 8 representing the Upper East Side will hold it’s formal vote to approve the zoning change necessary to demolish the current Blood Center building at the site and build the sprawling new commercial tower in its place. After that, it goes to the borough president, Gale Brewer, who’s indicated she’s opposed to the development and then the City Council.
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.” Adding that the controversial new development “is exactly what New York City needs right now.”