City moves forward with plans for $400M public health lab

Facility at 22 West 137th Street will span almost 200K sf

TRD New York /
Apr.April 20, 2020 05:25 PM
NYC Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and the Harlem Hospital Center at 506 Lenox Ave with 22 West 137th Street (Credit: Barbot by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images; Google Maps)

NYC Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot and the Harlem Hospital Center at 506 Lenox Ave with 22 West 137th Street (Credit: Barbot by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images; Google Maps)

The city is moving forward with plans for a new public health laboratory as it grapples with the greatest public health crisis in a century.

The Department of Health on Monday filed plans for a 10-story lab spanning almost 200,000 square feet. It will be based by the Harlem Hospital Center at 22 West 137th Street, according to files with the Department of Buildings.

The department initially announced plans for the center in 2018. The roughly $400 million project was expected to open around 2025, and it aimed to give the agency more flexibility for its lab equipment and allow staffers to work more easily during health crises, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

The current lab is located at 455 First Avenue between East 26th and East 27th streets in Kips Bay. It performs tests on more than 200,000 specimens per year and is equipped for same-day Covid-19 testing, according to the city.

The health department did not respond to questions about whether the coronavirus pandemic has led to any changes in the timeline or plans for the new lab.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially exempted the construction industry from order barring non-essential employees from going to work but later clarified that only work on projects deemed essential could continue. Health care centers, including research and lab facilities, were included as essential, so construction on the lab would be able to continue during the pandemic barring any changes in the order.

With economic disruption stemming from the pandemic, the city’s Independent Budget Office estimates that New York City could lose up to nearly 475,000 jobs in the next year and up to $14 billion in tax revenue over the next three years.


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