A new money-pit for New York City’s blood crisis may be gathering steam.
An influential developer is angling to bring luxury apartments, one- to three-story retail stores and offices to the former New York Blood Center headquarters on Varick Street in Lower Manhattan. The complex, according to a spokesman for the builder, would serve donors but also provide office space for the blood center.
But that prospect is already causing heartburn for advocates for the poor, who consider the development a bad deal for potential city taxpayers and say the blood center should be turned into a “transitional shelter” to house New Yorkers whose homes are in danger of being foreclosed on.
The blood center closed for good last year and relocated to Pittsburgh, leaving behind a decaying building that attracted only a few squatters and vandals. Its sprawling location at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge made it a favorite hiding place for drug dealers and other undesirable customers.
“This is an extremely dangerous site,” said Tamah Boykin, the founder of I Can’t Breathe, a nonprofit group that advocates for social services in New York City. “There’s no way to have productive life space.”
Kiron Dunn, a spokesman for developer Ghermstad USA Inc., said the new project would help keep the blood center alive and, as a whole, help revitalize Lower Manhattan. He said the company was “actively engaged in discussion and negotiations to maintain the historical New York Blood Center footprint that was on this property as is.”
New York Blood Center sought a 10-year lease for its Upper West Side building in 2013, but developers offered it a seven-year deal, which would have allowed them to renovate the site and potentially put apartments on top. The agency opted instead to move, saying it wanted to use new services. Dunn said he doubted the new development would proceed without the blood center.