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The Garment District: Still Seeking Solutions

Garment District - Mannequin Thumnail - Photo by Giles Ashford

Ahead of 2012’s Fall Fashion Week, the City announced new initiatives to help strengthen New York City’s fashion industry.  In October of 2011 MAS released a report on the Garment District which documented the critical assets of the district and outlined a number of recommendations to strengthen the industry. Our report: Fashioning the Future: NYC’s Garment District can be found here.

In recent days, the Bloomberg administration has floated a new proposal to retain some of the existing manufacturing in the district. The details are still emerging but the proposal seeks to raise approximately $3 million a year in revenue through an additional assessment levied on buildings with the Fashion Center BID boundaries to help subsidize property owners willing to preserve approximately 500,000 square feet of space for manufacturing within the district.  The City is hoping to test this idea by releasing an RFP in the coming weeks.  If successful a re-zoning of the neighborhood to allow other uses aside from manufacturing may be the next step.

Past attempts to consolidate manufacturing have been unsuccessful as landlords and fashion industry leaders have been unable to agree on the amount of space that should be preserved for manufacturing use and how long the space should be preserved.  Although this proposal would preserve 200,000 square feet more than the city’s last proposal, our report documents that there is over a million square feet of space currently being used for production, so it unclear if the present proposal will be sufficient to retain the core of garment manufacturing and design that are in the Garment District.  We will be watching closely as details emerge and as discussions about this vital neighborhood and critical industry continue to unfold.