The New York Blood Center is in a bruising battle with its Upper East Side neighbors over a proposed expansion that opponents say would dwarf area buildings and include a scary Bio Safety Level 3 lab to study dangerous microbes.
The Blood Center, a non-profit blood bank and research facility, is asking for a rezoning in order to replace its 3-story headquarters on East 67th Street with a 334-foot tower most of which would be rented out to for-profit companies as a “life sciences center.”
Community residents and some elected officials said the space is much more than the Blood Center needs, would cast shadows over a neighboring school and park, and they criticized the non-profit for not initially disclosing that it would include a BLS.
Such labs are meant for work with “agents that may cause serious and potentially lethal infections,” according to the city Health Department, which in 2016 noted “an accident in a New York City-based high-containment research laboratory could have catastrophic consequences.”
The Blood Center collects about 2,000 units of blood products a day, researches blood-related diseases, and runs a bank for umbilical-cord blood.
The lab’s existence only came to light when it was included in a slide presentation to the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts.
The Blood Center countered that it has always had such a laboratory, but some opponents still question how this one will be used.
City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the area, said the Blood Center has not been transparent about the lab.
“I hate to think of what they’re cooking up in there,” he said.
The Blood Center told The Post the lab will be for its use only and “is a necessary component for the research and development of new antivirals and vaccines.” It said it has used the lab for hepatitis and HIV research in the past.
The Blood Center has tried unsuccessfully for a rezoning and expansion several times, Kallos said.