Building Must Stay in NYC’s Blood

Long Island Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by the New York Daily News and was written by KATHLEEN CULHANE.

Without question, building back better is critical to New York’s economic recovery. Prior to the pandemic, construction accounted for 20% of our economy and 10% of jobs. But last year, we lost 74,000 jobs and nearly $10 billion to delayed projects. Now more than ever, we need the construction industry to be the major driver of new jobs and economic growth it has always been for our city.

Yet strong anti-development sentiment is threatening to derail this path forward. So the question becomes: What are we sacrificing if we allow transformative projects to wither on the vine? Beyond the completion of urgent infrastructure priorities, one of the important answers is jobs for low-income tradespeople.

It is critical we move forward with projects that will not only get New Yorkers back to work, but break down barriers to growing industries that will increasingly be drivers of our economy.

A case in point is the life science industry, and the New York Blood Center’s plan to redevelop its nearly century-old facility on the Upper East Side into a 21st-century life science research building.

Mayor de Blasio just announced a $500 million investment aimed at making New York a life science industry leader. Much of that funding will go to addressing New York’s deficit of lab space compared to leading centers for biomedical research. It’s a good start, but we still have a long way to go: Boston and San Francisco have each built more than 20 million square feet of labs, while New York’s supply remains below 2 million square feet. We need a sustained commitment to creating additional supply to secure the tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic stimulus the industry will generate in the coming decade.

The Blood Center and its mission-driven life science development partner Longfellow have organized a model project, Center East, in which the build-out of an important infrastructure priority that serves our city’s post-pandemic health care system will simultaneously offer opportunities for a diverse workforce and career advancement for low-income women. The project will prioritize MWBE hiring and generate 1,500 full-time construction jobs and $1.1 billion in economic output annually.

Working in partnership with several workforce development and educational institutions — including Nontraditional Employment for Women, one of only a few women-focused workforce development organizations in New York City and the nonprofit I lead — the Blood Center is ensuring an equitable development process from build-out through groundbreaking, with tangible benefits for our communities and regional economy.

CTA Button


It’s not just the construction of this project that provides a much-needed boost to our economy; it’s what we’ll get after we build it. Center East will provide a training ground that breaks down barriers for underrepresented groups in the life science sector.

The Blood Center’s partnerships with local institutions and nonprofits like the City University of New York, and Harlem-based STEM careers nonprofit The Knowledge House, among others, will ensure this development doesn’t just deliver a short-term injection of jobs and economic opportunities but provides a lasting career pipeline for individuals traditionally excluded from life science careers, including Black and Brown New Yorkers.

Our city desperately needs projects like Center East. Now is not the time to let those who seem more concerned about temporary scaffolding on their block or the infringement of the view from their apartment get in the way of the greater good for New York—especially after a year when COVID devastated us economically and hit low-income neighborhoods the hardest.

Even the mayor’s attempt to start catching up won’t happen if we suffocate one of the biggest drivers of jobs our city has by blocking any new development. The New York Building Congress estimates that construction will generate more than $100 billion and nearly 280,000 jobs in 2021 and 2022. However, we can only realize the economic potential of our construction industry with a balanced approach to new development.

Significant as the projections for the next couple of years are, they still fall 14% short of what construction generated between 2017-2019.

It’s time for a long-term, pro-growth and pro-equity plan for our city’s future. Too often these ideas are considered mutually exclusive; in fact, they work best hand in hand. We need to build and do so with an emphasis on equity in the process from start to finish.

Blanket distrust of development will get us nowhere, but it will cost us good jobs for New Yorkers that need them.

Culhane is president of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW), a workforce development program that prepares women for careers in the skilled construction, utility and maintenance trades. NEW is working with the Blood Center to secure jobs for its low-income members on the Blood Center’s construction site.

 John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: or (631) 608-1346.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.  No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.  Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website authors, contributors, contributing law firms, or committee members and their respective employers.

Long Island Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by the New York Daily News and was written by KATHLEEN CULHANE.