Mayor de Blasio has ties to two companies that are the blood center of New York in the controversial tower plan, which has been fiercely opposed by its Upper East Side neighbors and other elected officials.
De Blasio’s management pushed the project, with Commissioner of Health Dr. Dave Chukchi testifying in favor of the expansion plan to City Council, which held a marathon public hearing on the project earlier this month. She was also supported by a vice president in the city’s public hospital system.
Administration officials, including Deputy Mayor Vicki Bean, have reached out to elected officials to support the project, according to a source.
The nonprofit Blood Center is seeking to repartition its three-story headquarters on East 67th Street with a 334-foot-tall—34-story—tower that would mostly house for-profit life sciences companies.
The law firm of Kramer Levine is the center of the blood in the redistricting effort.
The same company represented the mayor in an investigation into fundraising activities—and de Blasio still owes the company an estimated $435,000.
The PR firm BerlinRosen also operates in the blood center. The company’s co-founder, Jonathan Rosen, was one of the mayor’s closest advisors.
said city councilman Ben Kalos, who represents the Upper East Side and is one of the most prominent opponents of the Blood Center plan.
Critics say the massive tower will cast a shadow over St. Catherine’s Park across the street and that construction noise will disrupt schools in the building’s Julia Richman Education Complex. Opponents say changing the division of the middle bloc would also be unprecedented.
U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who represents the district, along with Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Rebecca Siraight, spoke out against the plan during an Oct. 20 city council hearing.
“The entire community is against this,” said Jill Brewer, president of the Manhattan Borough.
The proposal found support among unions because of the jobs it would provide.
The Blood Center, at the start of the seven-hour public hearing, offered a 50-foot reduction in its tower height to 284 feet to reduce the impact on the park.
The concession may not be enough to get the project approved by the city council, where it is currently before a zoning subcommittee and where the source has described its current size as “unacceptable.”
“The blood center project will not go as it is, but negotiations are underway,” said a council insider.
The council usually acquiesces to the wishes of the local representative in matters of zoning.
The Blood Center asserts that its current headquarters site is the “best and only viable option” for a new building and that it wants to be co-located with science companies for research collaboration.
While the organization organizes blood drives at its headquarters, it stores and processes what it collects at a facility in Long Island City, which is also its distribution site. She says she does much of her research in the East 67th Street building, which dates back to the 1930s and was a former trade school.
Earlier this year, the mayor set a goal to make New York City the life sciences capital of the world. So of course it supports the blood center. Their work saves lives, creates jobs and innovates in a vital sector of our economy. “This is an important project and the Nimbi movement should not get in the way of our city’s growth,” said Mitch Schwartz, a spokesman for the city council.
Berlin representative Rosen said she has worked on several economic development projects in the city and has not worked with the mayor since 2017. “The company’s record speaks for itself,” Kramer Levine said through a project spokesperson.