Council approves plan for Upper East Side blood center
The project received support from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said it was essential to making New York City the life sciences capital of the world. City council members, including President Corey Johnson, were also convinced of the center’s potential. As part of this plan, the Blood Center would receive city and state tax breaks of at least $ 450 million over the next 25 years.
In a speech four minutes before the vote, Kallos said he and his community were still willing to endorse the Blood Center, but objected to its height and the story of Longfellow’s penchant for grandiose buildings with grandiose buildings. “Organized amenities” that include “spa treatment and free flowing beer and wine yoga.
Blood Center leaders were not deterred by Kallos’ opposition and instead reportedly spent $ 1.6 million since 2016 lobbying council members, including council member Keith Powers, including the district adjoins the district of Kallos. The group also reached out to Bronx board member Rafael Salamanca, chair of the land use committee, and members of the Black, Latino and Asian caucus. All approved the plan.
“The rezoning of the Blood Center is not just a project that affects New York City,” Salamanca Jr. said before voting. “The project we are asked to vote on today is not a hyperlocal housing project that will bring market-priced units to a neighborhood, or even an overglorified office tower as some have called it. This is a project that balances the concerns of the surrounding community regarding shadows and heights of buildings while also having the potential to save the lives of your neighbors, friends, family members. and maybe even from you one day.
But Kallos insisted the project had de Blasio’s backing because the lobby group hired by the Blood Center, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, is the same group that represented de Blasio when he was accused of ” violating campaign finance laws in July 2016 through a non-profit organization. he created to advance his political causes. De Blasio owed the company $ 300,000, which prompted Kallos to accuse de Blasio of paying to gamble.
De Blasio said his support for the project has nothing to do with what he owes the company.
“This is a specious claim, it just is not correct. I care about the Blood Center because I care about the Blood Center and I care about the life sciences, I’ve been talking about it for years, ”de Blasio told host Errol Louis on“ Inside City Hall ”on Spectrum NY1 Monday. “We made a plan years ago. I didn’t even know who their portrayal was, honestly, until very late in this process. So it had nothing to do with it. It’s a project that makes sense for New York City. This is what is motivating.
A Blood Center spokesperson called the pay-to-play charge groundless, saying “the pressure group’s record speaks for itself.”
“This is just another in a series of desperate attempts by opponents to distract from the broad support and obvious benefits of the project,” the spokesperson said.
Members of the Black, Latino and Asian caucus, who have supported plans to potentially advance research into sickle cell disease, a condition that has a huge impact on the black community, released a statement following an accusation that the caucus chair was trying to sell his vote. in exchange for $ 500,000 in donations to local community groups.
The case was referred to the Investigations Department. A spokesperson told WNYC / Gothamist the agency was aware of the case but declined to elaborate further.
A spokesperson for the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus called the accusation “a final act of desperation that will shamefully end a debate in which we have called for civility and compromise.”
At the hearing, council member Daneek Miller, co-chair of the caucus, called Kallos’ comments opposing the project “despicable.”
“I am saddened to see this because once again he is blinded by the enclaves of privilege, that he did not see that this project benefits the greater good. He didn’t see the value of the project; he did not see his task as a legislator in the service of those who are marginalized ”, he declared.
Those who voted against the zoning change with Kallos have expressed it as a matter of principle when it comes to member deference. Among them, Brooklyn council member Carlos Menchaca defended Kallos’ reservations about the scale of the project and the fact that there is no legally binding agreement on a $ 10 million pot for the local school.
“I think the thresholds Ben is talking about are reasonable,” Menchaca said moments before voting. “It must mean something. “
The council also passed a massive rezoning plan for the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn, which will inaugurate 3,000 affordable housing units in the coming years, with $ 200 million allocated to renovating the neighborhood’s public housing units. and the preservation of five buildings.