300 Upper East Siders Joined Elected Officials to Stop the Blood Center Tower

New York Blood Center Tower Protest. Photo: Diane Bondareff

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joined around 300 Upper East Side residents, community groups, and students and families from the Julia Richman Education Complex yesterday in a rally against New York Blood Center and Longfellow's 334 foot commercial tower. The elected officials and community members expressed their strong opposition to the size and scale of the proposed tower while supporting the Blood Center building a new facility under existing zoning.

"Since my days in the City Council, I have worked diligently with my neighbors to preserve our historic residential community. The proposed zoning change would allow for out-of-context midblock high-rises, reducing light and quality of life in one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the entire city. Alarmingly, this reasoning and the anticipated increase in vehicular traffic poses a significant risk to the thousands of children who use St. Catherine's Park or attend school in the Julia Richman Education Complex."

- Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, New York Blood Center Tower Protest. Photo: Diane Bondareff

The proposed Blood Center Tower would be the first violation of R8B zoning, which set a 75' height limit on midblock buildings throughout the Upper East Side, in the more than 35 years since this zoning was enacted for the very purpose of protecting the residential character of the midblocks in the community.

"The proposal makes a mockery of our hard-fought and sensible zoning rules that protect midblock locations from massive towers, oversaturation, and unnecessary intrusions that threaten our health and safety."

- Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, New York Blood Center Tower Protest. Photo: Diane Bondareff

"The Longfellow proposal as it stands is a non-starter for our community. We are not trading the light and sun at St. Catherine's Park and JREC for another tall tower. Why would we willingly jeopardize the Upper East Side's residential midblock zoning in order to build a tower we know is not needed? The Blood Center does important work and could absolutely expand without a rezoning of this magnitude if for-profit development was not the main focus here. This is why we insist that the Longfellow proposal be stopped. It is excessive and if allowed to go through unchecked, it will change our neighborhood forever."

- Council Member Ben Kallos

Community Board 8 is holding a Special Meeting of the Board tomorrow, May 25, to continue the discussion on this rezoning application. Representatives of the Blood Center and Longfellow are expected to answer outstanding questions the community members have been asking since September 2020 and have gone unanswered since then. Click here to sign in and submit written testimony.

Special Meeting of the Board
Tuesday, May 25
6:30 PM

Council Member Ben Kallos, New York Blood Center Tower Protest. Photo: Diane Bondareff

This aggressive proposal demonstrates disregard for the community in every way — it requires the community to bear the impact of an egregious building to benefit a private developer. It sets an irreversible land use precedent for the Upper East Side and what makes our neighborhoods livable. Working with our local representatives in government, and the Coalition of stakeholders who have been activated against this project, we will fight this wrong building at the wrong location every step of the way."

- Rachel Levy, Executive Director of FRIENDS

Thank you to all the elected officials and candidates, residents, parents, students, and concerned citizens that helped to make yesterday's rally a true success! The power of our united community will make a difference in stopping this massive and inappropriate proposal. The fight is only beginning, and we need your help every step of the way!