Plans for plasma donation center in Hannaford Plaza make slow progress amid neighborhood concerns

Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s a step forward and two steps back for a company trying to bring a blood plasma donation center to Albany. The company, CSL, is trying to buy an open space in the Hannaford Supermarket shopping plaza on Central Avenue.

“Blood plasma is used for a lot of different therapies to treat a lot of different diseases, blood diseases, and for a lot of research, so all in all it’s a plus for the community, it’s a plus for the medical community as a whole,” explains John Wright, an attorney representing the owners of the Hannaford Plaza.

But it’s taken two years to get a proper vote on where plasma centers can and can’t go based on the Albany zoning code. The city planning department previously declared they’re not an office, not a clinic, and not a retail space.

“We have a great respect for Chris Spencer and his office, we were disappointed with the conclusion he came to, but I think the board today made the right decision,” says Wright after the zoning board voted Wednesday plasma centers will be classified under “light manufacturing.”

“If you put in a use that is antithetical to the zone, you can create negative effects to the people that live there. One of the things that the board does in its day-to-day business is it weighs the benefit to the applicant with the burden on the neighborhood that it’s coming into,” says Chair of the Albany Board of Zoning Appeals Richard Berkley.

And the neighborhood is certainly concerned. Zachary Simpson is the vice president of the Upper Washington Avenue Neighborhood Association and has been to every meeting in two years to proclaim their persistent no to a plasma center at Hannaford Plaza.

“Which is right down the street from our park — our Westland Hills Park — it’s very close to a residential neighborhood, so we were concerned about impacts on the neighborhood,” Simpson explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Among those concerns, the physical toll plasma donation puts on participants, loitering in the plaza, crowding parking, and targeting behind the plan.

“It does prey on lower income individuals. They have a business model, they have to be on a bus line, they have to be near a college university, they target. They do target strip malls, that’s what works for them,” Simpson says.

NEWS10 reached out to CSL for comment, but so far no response. Zoning the center as “light manufacturing” would still allow the company to set up shop in the plaza, with restrictions, which they’ll now need to go back and petition the planning department for.

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