Challenge to Blood Center development was in vain

Judge dismisses lawsuit to stop historic rezoning

A photo illustration of 310 East 67th Street (Google Maps, Getty Images)
A photo illustration of 310 East 67th Street (Google Maps, Getty Images)

A judge agreed with neighbors of the New York Blood Center that its massive redevelopment will be “annoying” for them.

But, she said, the project can move forward.

Judge Arlene Bluth dismissed their lawsuit seeking to void the rezoning of the nonprofit’s headquarters, 310 East 67th Street, that paved the way for a 16-story building to rise there.

The condominium board next door at 301 East 66th Street alleged, among other things, that Longfellow Development will disproportionately benefit from the rezoning because the blood center will only occupy a third of the new building.

The group also accused the City Council of approving a rezoning that solely benefits Longfellow and the blood center. But Bluth said the city at large would benefit.

That is exactly what Council leaders had said in November when they overruled the local member, Ben Kallos, in a rare exception to the chamber’s custom of member deference.

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“There is no basis to find that the approvals are anything close to illegal spot zoning,” Bluth wrote in an Aug. 22 decision.

She also acknowledged that the years of construction will likely disrupt its neighbors and the project will mar their views, but that “there is also no doubt that the facility, once finished, will benefit the community,” citing its research of macro- and neurodegenerative disorders and vaccines for other diseases.

An attorney for the condo board, Mikhail Sheynker, said the judge failed to consider several legal arguments against the rezoning, or “the nightmarish impact an accident in a lab experimenting with the world’s virulent pathogens would have on one of our nation’s most highly congested residential neighborhoods.”

The approval marked the first time since 2009 that the City Council did not vote along with the local member on a land use issue.

The judge’s decision continues a winning streak for the city and developers over a spate of legal challenges to rezonings following a court’s surprise rejection of a major Inwood rezoning. That decision was reversed on appeal and upheld in November 2020 by the state’s highest court.

NYC Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix cheered the Blood Center ruling, saying in a statement, “This is an important project furthering the interests of all New Yorkers.”