The flags are faded outside. Some parts of the building facade are faded. The New York Blood Center has been operating outside of a white brick building on East 67th Street for more than 50 years.
And they want an update.
"This project is crucial to the vision of New York City becoming the vision of the public health capital of the world," Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.
But for weeks, controversy has surrounded the plan to develop a new space for the New York Blood Center, which provides 90% of the city's blood supply.
At the heart of the issue, the local Councilman is against it.
"The applicant, the developer in this case, has been dishonest from the beginning,” said Councilman Ben Kallos. “People have been voting on things without knowing what they are voting on."
That said, the City Council is set to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, upending a longstanding tradition of deferring to local representatives on projects in their districts.
"Everything we are getting from the administration has been dishonest and from the developer has been dishonest every step of the way,” Kallos told NY1 on Monday afternoon. “They refuse to meet with the community board. They refuse to meet with the borough president. They refuse to meet with me. They would rather spend millions of dollars lobbying everybody else."
The project will greatly expand the building, rising to about 233 feet. About a third of it will be for the Blood Center. The rest will be dedicated space for life sciences companies. It could be eligible for $100 million in tax breaks.
And as part of the deal with the Council, the center has promised to donate $500,000 to local community groups dedicated to fighting sickle cell disease. Sources tell NY1 some of the groups being considered for funding are not in Manhattan, but in Brooklyn and Southeast Queens, including in Councilman Daneek Miller's district, who co-chairs the Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.
That group provided crucial support for the center at the Council.
A source told NY1 that part of the deal has been referred to the Department of Investigation.
A spokesperson for the center told NY1 it was not aware of any inquiry. But it sent NY1 this statement:
"No specific funding agreements have been made and the suggestion that this is anything other than a good faith commitment made as part of the Council negotiations last week is yet another unfounded attempt to slander a project critical for the health of New Yorkers that supports lifesaving research on diseases like HIV and sickle cell, secures a safe blood supply for city hospitals, creates thousands of jobs, and opens career opportunities for local students."
A spokesperson for the Council also fired back, saying in a statement: "These desperate attempts will not distract from the Council's work to build a new world class research space for the New York Blood Center, helping to cement New York City as a hub of biomedical research."
A spokesperson for the Department of Investigation said it was aware of the matter, but declined further comment.
Miller did not respond to NY1, but his caucus co-chair, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams, sent NY1 a statement saying the project would boost the life science industry and advance life-saving research.
"In particular,” she said, “research for sickle cell diseases, which disproportionately impact African Americans, have not historically had the funding and resources that it deserves. My support for this project is based on these critical factors.”
On top of that, residents on the Upper East Side filed a lawsuit on Monday attempting to derail the Council vote. A judge did not approve their request for a temporary restraining order and the Council vote was set to move forward.