Save the Garment District
Protecting the fabric of New York
The Garment District is home to one of New York City’s oldest, most iconic industries. Its success is dependent on an interconnected web of garment industry businesses remaining in Midtown—close to one another and close to the rest of the fashion industry.
MAS has twice banded together with partners in advocacy, including the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Design Trust for Public Space, to resist attempts to disrupt the protective zoning that keeps this pocket of manufacturing and creativity alive in the center of Manhattan.
In the spring and summer of 2017, MAS and partner organizations closely monitored a proposal by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Department of City Planning that would have removed the zoning requirement designed to preserve manufacturing space in the Garment Center.
MAS was concerned that this zoning proposal is moving forward without adequate input from the most important stakeholders: the owners of garment industry businesses, the skilled (mostly immigrant and mostly women) artisans who work in them, and the buyers and fashion students who frequent the shops.
In response, we conducted a first-of-its-kind series of industry surveys, the findings of which reinforced the importance of a central garment district in Manhattan. The surveys—conducted by MAS in collaboration with the Design Trust for Public Space and the Pratt Center for Community Development between April and July 2017—found potentially disastrous outcomes for the industry should the City’s proposal to remove zoning protections from its Manhattan neighborhood go forward without any new safeguards in place.
MAS and its members rallied together to call, email, and tweet their concerns about the proposal in the lead up to the City certifying the plan. On August 21, 2017, one week after the release of the MAS surveys, the City announced that it halt its plans to remove zoning protections for manufacturing in the Garment District. This temporary reprieve gives the City time to assess and implement the recommendations of the Garment Center Steering Committee to avert any negative impact of the zoning change.
We promise to continue fighting on behalf of this iconic industry when the City resumes its planning.
In April 2010, the Bloomberg administration floated a proposal to rezone Manhattan’s Garment District and remove protections for manufacturing use in the sought-after 13-block area. In response, MAS released a report Fashioning the Future: NYC’s Garment District. In it we highlighted the continued importance of the district and presented case studies, new data, historical records, and policy recommendations to create a vision forward for the neighborhood.
In June 2010, the City abandoned its rezoning efforts in response to public outcry and stakeholder opposition.