A furious fight broke out on Monday evening in front of the Manhattan Blood Center’s headquarters in Rockefeller Center, when activists rallied in support of the group’s longtime executive director.
The center is planning to move. Several activists protested outside the building, holding signs with messages such as “ACLU v. NYC” and “Resist this Amoral Treatment of All Americans,” saying the activists want to block the transfer of the Blood Center’s only building on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue.
“It’s not just about the Blood Center, it’s about the janitors, it’s about the janitors union that’s supporting us, and it’s about all the people who go to the blood center’s other property in Queens,” said Helen Dong, the elected chair of the chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
The center, which owns a total of seven properties around the city, has agreed to buy four other of the eight – including the 36,000-square-foot building at 671 Eighth Ave. – that house its facilities. The group does not currently employ the staff at those locations and is instead renting space there.
The $7 million it is paying the city for those properties is enough to cover costs for several more years, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said. However, the city is planning to sell the properties that don’t comply with the city’s “Urban Design Guidelines” and an individual buyer will be able to lease them at a greater rate.
Without the center’s Manhattan headquarters, there will be fewer stable jobs and the organization will have to reconsider how it pays its staff. Also, a group called Friends of the Neighborhood Organizing Workshops is raising funds to move the group out of its 200,000-square-foot headquarters.
The Blood Center’s lease on the Eighth Avenue building, which it co-owns with Condé Nast, expired at the end of last year and it is in the process of negotiating to renew the agreement, according to Chris Prinzivalli, the public relations director for the Blood Center.
“We continue to speak with the Friends of the Neighborhood Organizing Workshops in an effort to find a resolution that will both serve our mission and respect those that we serve,” Prinzivalli said in a statement.