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New York Blood Center Hoping For City Council Approval To Greatly Expand Its Upper East Side Headquarters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on the New York Blood Center's big expansion project on the Upper East Side.

Supporters say it's crucial to not only our blood supply, but life-saving research. However, opponents say the plans would set a dangerous precedent for the whole city, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported Monday.

It's the calm before the construction on East 67th Street. That is, if the New York Blood Center gets its way.

The nonprofit wants to turn its three-story, nearly 100-year-old headquarters on the Upper East Side into a 16-story, state-of-the-art life sciences hub.

"We rely on them to make sure there is a supply of blood to save lives in this city. They have to be strong for the future. They have to be sustainable. Second of all, this project is crucial to the vision of New York City becoming the public health capital of the world," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The City Council's expected vote is expected to be the final hurdle in what's become a controversial project.

The Blood Center sits mid-block on a residential street. It is asking the city to rezone the property to expand higher than the roughly six-seven stories currently allowed, the mid-block max in the area for 35 years.

"The scope, the scale, it is not meant for a residential neighborhood mid-block," said Bill Angelos, board president at 301 E. 66th St., one of the Blood Center's next-door neighbors.

Angelos' group was in court Monday, trying to get a temporary restraining order before the City Council vote.

The building had filed a protest against the project -- a seldom-used measure that would require approval from three-quarters of the Council, instead of a simple majority.

"If this is permitted to take place, this will set up an example for many, many other developers to come," attorney Marc Bresky said.

"The big concern is, it's a 16-story building, but most of the building is for a commercial office tower," Councilman Ben Kallos said.

The Blood Center has reduced the height from what was originally proposed. The Blood Center would anchor the first five floors, with the upper floors housing life science research companies.

"A collaborative ecosystem that furthers life-saving research, drug commercialization and helps fuel economic growth in NYC," the Center said.

"We should allow this project to go forward because all of the residents of the city of New York will benefit from this project," said Mike Hellstrom of the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York.

If approved, the Blood Center hopes to begin construction next year.

A spokesperson for the neighbors in court said the judge is expected to rule on the request for a temporary restraining order after Tuesday's City Council vote.

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