Blood Center of New York dispute sparks Manhattan row

Image copyright Bloomberg Image caption The Center, pictured here, is considered one of the world’s leading facilities for receiving blood

A conflict over who should pay for repairs at the Blood Center of New York, a national research facility on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has developed into a fiery row over property ownership.

Housing groups argued that the property owned by the Blood Center was undervalued and should be acquired by the taxpayer.

But in January the owner, The Blood Resource Foundation, sued New York City for what it called an “absurd” assessment.

Now the New York City Council is considering whether to file an appeal.

Streets & Byways reports that the dispute erupted earlier this year when the Blood Center of New York, famous for its transfusion research into the causes of diseases including HIV and Hepatitis, started to feel some financial strain.

Image copyright Bloomberg Image caption The Blood Center of New York is on Manhattan’s Lower East Side

Business rates have not increased in recent years, the tower in the heart of the property’s plaza is not a landmark, and a dispute with New York’s housing authority over maintenance costs has yet to be resolved.

The centre said its “unprecedented financial challenges” were the result of austerity measures, the loss of fundraising from federal budget cuts and a landmarked building.

While the Blood Center wants an affordable increase in business rates, the donor centre is looking for a lower assessment than the “Rothbard formula” – one of the key test properties that determines commercial rates.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Blood Center was founded in 1918 and houses some 160,000 blood plasma components

And two other owners of buildings in the plaza have raised concerns about the centre’s escalating claim for maintenance – and of the implications that would have for them.

The city’s Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) – which represents commercial landlords – recently joined the fight.

The centre’s board, which includes some large charitable donors, voted to file a complaint against the city with its Independent Budget Office.

In the first four weeks it issued an estimate that the city should pay $121m for the center’s property losses.

But if the city does decide to take action, a three-member arbitrator will be appointed to look at the case and issue a recommendation.

Either way, if an arbitrator rules in favour of the centre, it will be difficult to get the money out of the city.

The blood centre, which was founded in 1918 and houses some 160,000 blood plasma components, currently receives millions of dollars in federal funding.

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