Blood bank loses money, donors as it struggles to find new location

Blood bank loses money, donors as it struggles to find new location

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Blood Bank of Hawaii is struggling in its search for a new location -- as fewer donors come through the doors.

The non-profit knows it will have to move before rail construction reaches Dillingham Boulevard. While it waits, the blood bank has altered operations that have cost it drop-in donors and money.

City officials, and the agency overseeing the Honolulu rail project, want a piece of the Blood Bank of Hawaii's property.

The blood bank wants to sell its entire 22,500 square-foot Dillingham Boulevard site to the city -- it's been appraised at $5 million -- but the rail authority says it only wants a portion of the land.

The city has discussed forcing the sale through condemnation.

In a statement, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation said: "HART is still negotiating with blood bank, and has received pre-approval for eminent domain from the HART board and City Council, which HART may exercise if further delays to acquire the property through voluntary negotiations do not conclude in a timely manner and threaten to delay the overall project construction schedule."

Blood Bank CEO Kim-Anh Nguyen called HART's threat of condemnation "the sword hanging over our head."

"At any day, we could receive a lawsuit for seizure of part of our property," she said.

Nguyen says the blood bank must move out of its Dillingham home before rail construction hits the corridor, since blood bank operations will impacted by related closures.

Since discussions began two years ago, the non-profit says it has checked out 30 properties, but none of them were right.

"We need to be close to the airport, because we ship blood every day. We need to be close to our hospitals. And we need to have generator power access," Nguyen said. "The building itself has to support a lab with heavy equipment."

Anticipating rail work that will affect traffic, the blood bank divided its operations, moving the drop-in donor center five miles from its Kalihi headquarters.

As a result, the blood bank says, drop-in donations plummeted. To make up for it, the blood bank increased mobile blood drives.

"We've actually been trying to cut our costs," Nguyen said. "This has put in a wrench it. Yes, it costs more."

The move, Nguyen said, contributed to the non-profit losing money last year. It now needs capital from the sale of the Dillingham property to help pay for a move to a permanent home -- a move that could cost $10 million or more.

"Just renovating our satellite center so we could move our donors, that cost $1.5 million. We just don't have that money in our reserves," Nguyen said.

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